California produces more than 44 million waste tires annually. About 75 percent (33 million) are recycled into things like playground safety surfaces, mulch and weed abatement mats for landscaping, and rubberized asphalt concrete for paving roads. Tires that aren’t recycled typically end up in landfills or are illegally dumped, costing thousands of dollars to remove and presenting environmental hazards.
What Can You Do to Help?
We can all take action to keep from being "rolled over" by the waste tires in our state:
- First and foremost: Maintain your tires properly!
- Buy tires that promise higher mileage.
- If they’re available, buy retreaded tires.
- Whenever possible, buy products made from the rubber of old tires.
- Know who can reuse or recycle your old tires.
- Dispose of tires legally.
Buy Longer-Lasting Tires
When buying new tires, think long-term. Higher-mileage tires may cost more up front, but in the long run you will save money, especially if you follow the five steps listed above.
Consider Retreaded Tires
Retread tires are safe and less expensive than new tires. Using retread tires also helps keep tires out of the landfill. Retreaded tires are currently available for light trucks and commercial vehicles. If enough people ask for them, they will become available for passenger cars. Ask your local distributor if retreads are available for your vehicle.
For more information on retreaded tires, take a look at these videos:
- Hear how Californians have been successfully using retread tires! ( YouTube, 14:02) | Transcript (2009)
- See how retreaded tires are created! (YouTube, 11:08) | Transcript (2009)
Use Tire-Derived Products
There are now many handy products you can buy made from recycled tires, such as:
- Playground safety surfaces.
- Equestrian arena surfaces.
- Mulch, soil amendment, and weed abatement mats.
- Roof shingles.
- Molded products of all sorts.
- New tires that contain recycled rubber.
Rubber from waste tires is used in many applications, such as school tracks and sports surfaces and civil engineering projects, rubberized asphalt concrete (RAC), and other highway uses. Call your local public works department and ask if it is using RAC on the roads in your area. RAC extends the life of pavement, quiets road noise, and provides better traction. Check with your school district and see if it is replacing old playground and track surfaces with safer rubberized material. Write the politicians who represent you and ask them to support statewide purchasing of products made with recycled rubber.
Be sure your damaged or worn tires are properly managed. When you buy new tires, leave the old ones with the dealer, who will see that the tires are reused, recycled, or disposed of properly. If you have old tires around your property, check with your city or county environmental health office to find out where you can take them. Keep an eye out for local clean-up days. In some communities, there may be free clean-up days, but in others, there may be a charge for picking up your tires.
Call 1-800-CLEANUP for more information.
If you are interested in more detailed information about used and waste tire management and CalRecycle's activities in this area, the following resources are good places to start.