Did you know that over 300 million tires are disposed of every year in the United States? Car and truck tires are some of our most reusable and recyclable items being disposed of every day. No matter what model you drive, every vehicle has tires that will need to be disposed of properly every few years (depending on how much you drive). You could recycle used tires or find a way to upcycle them. Here's some suggestions on what you can do and the benefits of that.
Why You Should Recycle Your Tires
Tires in landfills introduce a variety of problems, they trap water for mosquitoes to breed in, dry tires attract rodents, and they waste a lot of space. They're also highly flammable (especially in the heat of South Texas summers) and are incredibly difficult to extinguish should they catch fire. There is an entire industry dedicated to the recycling of tires, and it's the responsible thing to do. Tires can be recycled in a variety of ways, some of which you may not have even heard of or considered! For example: did you know that tire-derived fuel produces up to 25% more energy than traditional fossil fuels?
How to Properly Dispose of Used Tires
A few ways you can recycle your old tires include:
Retreading. For otherwise undamaged tires, this is a good option to extend the life of the tires you have. It takes only 20% of the energy to retread a tire vs. making a new one. This is most often used on tractor-trailer and farm equipment tires.
Upcycle tires that are too damaged for repair (we'll get to that later).
Ask Belden's, or your local tire shop, to recycle them.
Research local tire-recycling companies.
Remember, the landfill is not an appropriate place for tire disposal!
Environmentally Friendly Tire Recycling
More than 75% of old tires are recycled in environmentally friendly and sustainable ways. From shoe soles to rubberized surfacing (like some sport surfaces or playground coverings), there are a variety of ways tires can be upcycled. This is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, as reusing just four tires can reduce CO2 emissions by hundreds of pounds.
For decades, people have been coming up with new and interesting ways to reuse their tires. Entire books have been written on the subject over the years, and there are countless online resources available as well. Here's a few basic ideas, what else can you come up with?
Seating. Old tires can be turned into outdoor seating with minimal modification. Just make sure to drill some holes in the bottom and/or fill the interior thoroughly so that it can't gather water or become a home for household pests and rodents.
Playing. It's a classic solution, with a little rope or chain, a tire can be easily converted into basic playground equipment. They can be stacked (don't forget anchoring) for climbing structures. They can also be a great container for a small sandbox.
Gardening. Tires can be a great solution for hanging, raised, or otherwise isolated planters.
It's obvious that we shouldn't dispose of tires in landfills. Do some research into your local tire recycling infrastructure and do your part to make sure old tires are put to their greatest use. Tires are incredibly durable, they hold up thousands of pounds on a daily basis just on your vehicle, imagine how much more life you can get out of them in other ways!