How Do Tires Get Recycled in the United States?


Quick Answer

In the United States, methods for recycling tires and converting tires into other uses include both private and government tire collection services. Manufacturers recycle tires into a variety of objects and uses, including molded rubber goods, adhesives, athletic fields and landscaping applications, according to Liberty Tire Recycling.

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Full Answer

Each state licenses tire refineries within their borders, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In the United States, most recycled tires do not end up in new tires because refined tire material does not create high enough grade material for new tires. In addition to traditional refinery, the process of pyrolysis reduces used tires to steel or oil. Because pyrolysis is not commercially viable, traditional refining methods for used tires remain more common in the United States.

In some cases, government entities or government waste disposal services pick up tires or accept them for drop-off at predetermined locations, with or without a collection fee. For example, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Scrap Tire Program charges $1.50 per collected tire. Governmental regulations typically control the number of tires collected. The State of Michigan allows an individual to drop off up to seven personal tires without registration as a tire scrap hauler. Private companies in the United States also arrange for used tire collection, usually for a fee.

To ensure environmental responsibility, the EPA issues permits to boilers and industrial refineries that refine used tires. In a 1997 government study, "Air Emissions from Scrap Tire Combustion," The EPA found that tire refineries pollute on average no more than the amount of pollution used to burn conventional fossil fuels.

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