The Life of a Tire: From Death to Rebirth

by Chris Martin on August 8, 2014

Have you ever thought about what happens to your old tires when you take your car to the shop to have them replaced? The treads are run-down or perhaps one of your tires has gone flat from being punctured by a nail. No matter what the reason is, there’s no way those worn out tires can be reused on another car. For years, those old, useless car tires would be sent to landfills, never to be seen or touched again. Fortunately someone started to understand the danger that piles upon piles of tires could cause and in recent years many companies have found new ways to reuse these old tires.

One of these companies is Ultimate Mats, which uses an average of 19.9% of recycled rubber content in their eco-friendly floor mats. Thanks to companies like this, 233 million worn out tires are recycled each year. Are you curious how on earth the tire that once drove your car around could be repurposed into a floor mat? Then by all means, read on.

Ultimate Mats
Think your tire is too destroyed to be reusable? Think again.

Tire Recycling Centers
Once you have gotten your tires replaced, be sure to request that your old tires be recycled. Typically the shop will recycle them for you, but in the event that they won’t, you can simply look up the rules in your city for tire recycling. Some cities have a tire pick-up day while others will have a drop-off site. Regardless of how the tires get to the recycling plant, it is just important that they do.

The Recycling Process
There are a number of ways to go about the first stage of recycling. At some tire recycling companies, your old tires will be placed into a tire shredder that breaks the tire up into a bunch of little 2-inch pieces. Others treat the tires with chemicals in order to break them down into a reusable material called reclaim rubber. From this point, the shreds are either cryogenically flash frozen and pounded into small particles or ground into chips or small particles mechanically. After the process is complete, the rubber bits are shipped off so that they can be made into something new.

Ultimate Mats
Recycling is one of the best things you can do to help the environment.

What Are Tires Turned Into?
There are many different ways that recycled tires can be put back into use. One use is simply putting them into rubberized asphalt used to resurface various highways and interstates. Sometimes the rubber chips are simply used as rubber mulch. Running tracks and other outdoor play areas often have cushiony rubber surfaces. Even decks and railroad ties can be replaced with materials made from recycled tires. And recycled tires can also be turned into stylish, eco-friendly floor mats.

Tires have had a rough first life from having to do all of a vehicle’s grunt work. By giving old tires a second chance through recycling them into something new, we are giving them a much more respectable end than spending eternity in a landfill.

Photo credits: The Tire Zoo
Kevin Dooley

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: