Tire Recycling and Reuse - Updated April 2013
Each year, the Department of Ecology (Ecology) collects data on tire recycling and reuse
(required by law in RCW 70.95.545). The table below shows the reported recycling, reuse, and
disposal data for 2002 to 2011. The total estimated number of waste tires generated in 2011 is
over 5 million tires. An estimated total of 87,974 tons of waste tires generated in 2011. The total
reported tire disposal, recycling, and reuse in Washington for 2011 (see the chart below) includes:
7,813 tons retreaded (12%), 30,374 tons recycled (48%), 10,450 tons used for fuel (23%), and 14,156
tons landfilled (17%). (One ton of tires is about 100 passenger tires).
Waste tires can be reused as:
- Floor mats, belts, gaskets, shoe soles, dock bumpers, seals, muffler hangers, shims,
and washers. After steel bead removal, waste tires are cut, punched and stamped into various
- Retreads, also known as recaps. This manufacturing process extends the tire's
life. Retreading saves millions of gallons of oil each year because it takes only 7 gallons
of oil to retread a used tire compared to 22 gallons to produce a new tire. The word
retread also refers to a tire taken through this process.
- Energy. Waste tires are used as fuel because of their high heating value. Burning
waste tires is not recycling (under the state's definition), but is considered a higher
use than landfilling. Tires used for fuel are shredded - known as tire-derived fuel
(TDF) - or whole, depending on the type of combustion device. In Washington State, the
cement industry uses TDF.
- Tire Chips. These are used as an alternate daily cover for some municipal landfills.
Waste tires are recycled for:
- Civil engineering applications. They replace some construction material such
as lightweight fill materials like expanded shale or polystyrene insulation blocks, drainage
aggregate, or even soil or clean fill. Examples of civil engineering applications include:
- Subgrade fill and embankments.
- Backfill for walls and bridge abutments.
- Subgrade insulation for roads.
- Playground surface material.
- Gravel substitute.
- Ground rubber applications. Also referred to as sized-reduced rubber or crumb
rubber. This material increases the resiliency of the sports/playground surfaces thereby
decreasing injuries. Examples of sports/playground uses include:
Recycled rubber products
- Ground cover under playground equipment.
- Running track material
- Sports and playing fields
- Other ground rubber applications. Include the following:
- Ground tire rubber blended with asphalt for road construction
- Molded rubber products.
- Brake pads and brake shoes.
- Additive to injection molded and extruded plastics.
- Automotive parts.
- Agricultural and horticultural applications/soil amendments.
- Horse arena footing.