Approximately 300 million people live in the United States-and Americans improperly dispose of nearly the same number of old tires each year. In the United States alone, businesses and individuals alike get rid of 240 million tires each year. Only a small percentage of those tires go to sustainable recycling, while nearly 77% end up in landfills or illegally abandoned.
But why does it matter if old tires get left out in the environment or placed in a landfill? The truth is that the sheer number of old tires combined with their material makeup means tires are hazardous to the public and the environment when not properly disposed of.
In this blog, we’ll help you understand several things regarding safe tire disposal. You’ll learn when your tires are no longer usable on the road, why they require recycling and what they’re made of, and how you can dispose of and repurpose old tires.
When Tires Should Become Scrap Material
Much of what determines a tire’s usefulness comes from the condition of its treads. As your tires age, they lose tread definition, which then reduces the amount of traction they provide. This loss of traction especially becomes a problem for drivers who encounter inclement weather like snow and rain.
With a loss of traction comes a loss of vehicle control, which increases your chances of collisions and accidents. So how do you know when your tires become a hazard on the road? To figure out exactly how deep your tire treads are, consider using the following technique.
The Penny Test
The penny test helps you measure the amount of tread left on the tire. First, place a regular penny between the tread strips on your tire. Make sure to position the coin so Lincoln’s head points downwards. If you cannot see the very top of Lincoln’s head, this means your tires are currently safe to use.
To ensure that you have even more tread height, use the Lincoln Memorial side with the memorial pointing down. If you cannot see the memorial at all, you know that you have more than 3/32″ of tread.
Most state laws require a tread depth of at least 2/32″ for safety reasons. If your tires have less than the recommended amount, invest in new tires that will ensure vehicular traction while driving.
If you determine that your tires’ tread isn’t deep enough, read below to learn what to do with your old tires and why it’s so important to find a safe way to dispose of them.
What Tires Are Made Of
Rubber is one of the top ingredients for tires, which is why they’re so important to recycle. The rubber compound in tires doesn’t decompose, and even creates buoyancy that interferes with landfill contaminant barriers.
But tires contain much more than just rubber. Tires also contain fiber, textile, and steel cords to reinforce their durability. Much like rubber, these materials don’t break down, which means they cause environmental harm when not properly disposed of and recycled.
How Tires Help When They’re Recycled
Three main industries make use of old scrap tires, including the civil engineering, road paving, and tirefuel industries.
Countless civil engineering applications utilize scrap tires for insulation, aggregate, and fill material. Road paving also repurposes old scrap tires to create a stronger road-building material called asphalt rubber, which requires little maintenance.
When properly regulated, tire-derived fuel, or TDF, offers a safe alternative to fossil fuels. Different combustion types have the capacity to burn whole or shredded tires, which provides heat and energy along with reduced emissions and increased environmental benefits.
How to Creatively Repurpose Tires
When you recycle your tires properly, one of the three above industries can use them for environmentally friendly purposes. But if you have a creative streak and want to hang on to your old tires, consider using them to create a unique planter, coffee table, or yard decoration. The Internet provides unlimited ideas on how to repurpose and reuse end-oflife tires.
To find out how you can safely dispose of tires in your area, contact your local disposal provider today.