Rubber Recycling Facts


Rubber Recycling Facts


  • Pennsylvanians throw away more than 12 million scrap tires each year.Scrap Tire Recycling Picture



  • There are about 20 million scrap tires in large stockpiles scattered throughout Pennsylvania.



  • In 1996, 202 million scrap tires were recovered for reuse or recycling. About 152 million of these were used to make tire-derived fuel.



  • Recycling and reuse of scrap tires has grown from about 11 % in 1990 to over 70 percent today.



  • 200,000 tons of crumb rubber were recovered from waste tires in 1996.



  • Scrap tire rubber can be used for a number of applications including:



  • Road paving. Including rubber in paving material can improve the life of the pavement, minimize ice accumulation, reduce hydroplaning, and reduce road noise.



  • Recycled rubber can be used at levels as high as 50 % in manufacturing new tires.



  • To manufacture athletic surfaces, play areas, landfill liners, and sheet rubber for manufacturing products.



  • As a source of rubber for manufacturing molded rubber products.



  • As fuel for various manufacturing processes. Tire derived fuel (TDF) is cheaper than oil, and has an equivalent heating value. TDF also has a lower sulfur and nitrogen content than oil, so air emissions are often better.


Why Recycle Tires?


  • Tires are a disposal problem because they won't stay buried in landfills. Whole tires trap air and/or methane gas, causing tires to "float" to the surface.



  • Scrap tires that aren't recycled often end up in tire "dumps". These dumps pose a number of health and environmental threats including:


Risk of tire fires. Tires don't catch fire easily, but when they do catch fire, they burn very hot and are very difficult to extinguish.


  • Water sprayed on burning tires cools them down, producing an oily run-off that can contaminate surface and groundwater.



  • Heat from tire fires causes some of the rubber to break down into an oily material, increasing the likelihood of surface and groundwater pollution.


Disease-carrying Mosquitoes.Water collects in tires providing a perfect breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes

Steps You Can Take to Reduce Tire Waste

1. Purchase higher mileage tires. Using tires with a tread life of 80,000 instead of 40,000 miles reduces scrap tire generation by 50 percent.

2. Purchase retreaded or remanufactured tires. Safety studies show that retreaded and remanufactured tires are as safe as newly manufactured tires.


  1. Perform regular tire maintenance. Proper inflation and regular rotation as recommended by the manufacturer extends tire life.