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Rubber Recycling Facts


  • Pennsylvanians throw away more than 12 million scrap tires each year.Scrap Tire Recycling Picture
  • There are about 20 million scrap tires in large stockpiles scattered throughout Pennsylvania.
  • In 1996, 202 million scrap tires were recovered for reuse or recycling. About 152 million of these were used to make tire-derived fuel.
  • Recycling and reuse of scrap tires has grown from about 11 % in 1990 to over 70 percent today.
  • 200,000 tons of crumb rubber were recovered from waste tires in 1996.
  • Scrap tire rubber can be used for a number of applications including:
  • Road paving. Including rubber in paving material can improve the life of the pavement, minimize ice accumulation, reduce hydroplaning, and reduce road noise.
  • Recycled rubber can be used at levels as high as 50 % in manufacturing new tires.
  • To manufacture athletic surfaces, play areas, landfill liners, and sheet rubber for manufacturing products.
  • As a source of rubber for manufacturing molded rubber products.
  • As fuel for various manufacturing processes. Tire derived fuel (TDF) is cheaper than oil, and has an equivalent heating value. TDF also has a lower sulfur and nitrogen content than oil, so air emissions are often better.

Why Recycle Tires?


  • Tires are a disposal problem because they won't stay buried in landfills. Whole tires trap air and/or methane gas, causing tires to "float" to the surface.
  • Scrap tires that aren't recycled often end up in tire "dumps". These dumps pose a number of health and environmental threats including:

Risk of tire fires. Tires don't catch fire easily, but when they do catch fire, they burn very hot and are very difficult to extinguish.


  • Water sprayed on burning tires cools them down, producing an oily run-off that can contaminate surface and groundwater.
  • Heat from tire fires causes some of the rubber to break down into an oily material, increasing the likelihood of surface and groundwater pollution.

Disease-carrying Mosquitoes. Water collects in tires providing a perfect breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes

Steps You Can Take to Reduce Tire Waste

1. Purchase higher mileage tires. Using tires with a tread life of 80,000 instead of 40,000 miles reduces scrap tire generation by 50 percent.

2. Purchase retreaded or re-manufactured tires. Safety studies show that retreaded and re-manufactured tires are as safe as newly manufactured tires.


  1. Perform regular tire maintenance. Proper inflation and regular rotation as recommended by the manufacturer extends tire life.