Talking Trash: New Life for Tired Tires

Tires can illegally end up in scrap piles causing damage to the environment. Find out how to recycle old tires.

| September/October 2002


Roughly 800 million tires have accumulated in scrap piles around the United States. These tire piles collect rainwater and become breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes and other insects. Tire piles are also prone to fires, which can burn for months. Burning tires emit thick black smoke and toxic gas, and the rubber decomposes into oil, which can pollute ground and surface water.

Because of these problems, thirty-five states prohibit landfill disposal of whole tires and have passed strict scrap tire regulations that require shredding and grinding before tires are put into landfills or used for alternatives such as highway surfacing, playground equipment, construction materials, landfill covers, and products for the home.

Vulcanization—the process of hardening rubber to create long-lasting tires—makes it impossible to create new tires from old ones because vulcanized tires don’t melt down effectively. Retreaded tires, available at any dealership, contain 75 percent recycled rubber and use only 30 percent of the energy needed to produce a new tire. Retreads cost one-third less than new tires and are subject to the same strict quality and safety standards. Statistics show that retreads perform just as well as new tires if proper maintenance guidelines are followed.

Give your tires a long life.

•Buy long-lasting tires with a tread wear grade of 200 or more.

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