Understanding Tire Recycling A Beginners Guide

Every year, individuals and corporations scrap, replace, or dump about 1 billion tires worldwide. Enter tire shredding and recycling.

A Beginner’s Guide to Tire Shredding and Recycling

Eco Green Equipment tire recycling shredder blog

Every year, individuals and corporations scrap, replace, or dump about 1 billion tires worldwide. In 2017, the United States generated 249.4 million scrap tires alone. In the coming years, this number will grow, thanks to economic improvements in developing countries and cheaper vehicles.

Unfortunately, Tires aren’t easy to dispose of. Depending on the type, they can take more than 80 years to decompose.

Enter tire shredding and recycling. This relatively new practice has made a significant impact on scrap tires worldwide. In fact, between 1990 and 2015, tire recycling helped reduce an excess of 1 billion scrap tires to about 67 million.

How does tire shredding and recycling help the environment?

In many places, it’s illegal to dispose of scrap tires by burying them or tossing them in a landfill. Before dumping, most states require individuals and businesses to shred tires into chips or strips of various sizes.

To save money and cut corners, many businesses leave their scrap tires on public land. This is because it’s legal to dispose of solid waste on government-owned property. Many times, these large piles of scrap tires sit unprocessed for decades. This poses a serious fire safety threat and provides homes for mosquitoes and other pests to breed.

Many old tires also contain heavy metals and chemicals. As the tires break down, these metals and chemicals leach into the ground and enter the water supply. Tire shredding and recycling significantly decreases the risk of these problems and helps prevent overcrowding at landfills.

Complete guide to waste rubber tire recycling

Most people see recycling as a way to “protect the environment,” but there is so much more to it than that. Recycling is important because it benefits our economy, protects our health and preserves our resources. In the past few years, there has been a dramatic increase in the recycling of waste plastic and paper as more and more people are becoming aware of the positive economic and environmental effects recycling can bring.

In addition to paper and plastic, other products can be recycled that people are not as aware of, such as rubber. Recycled rubber products can be used in many ways to manufacture new rubber products or to produce fuel by tire pyrolysis.

Waste rubber comes from three principal sources; the largest source consisting of used tires that contain vulcanized rubber. Other sources are waste produced during manufacturing processes and discarded rubber containing products such as examining gloves, rubber sleeves, rubber band etc. Tires are among most problematic sources of waste rubber. These tires are a challenging source of waste, due to the large volume produced, the durability of the tires, and the components in the tire that are ecologically problematic.

Because tires are highly durable and non-biodegradable, they can consume valued space in landfills. In 1990, it was estimated that over 1 billion scrap tires were in stockpiles in the United States. As of 2015, only 67 million tires remain in stockpiles. According to an estimate, over 1 billion tires are produced annually in over 400 tire factories. Thus, the potential for recycling millions of used tires is clearly very important. The main source of used tires is the automotive industry, which means cars that use tires as tread. It is estimated that less than 7% of the 300 million used tires take the form of new products and about 11% are converted into electricity. Over 77% are buried, stored or abandoned.

Waste rubber tires are recycled using two processes namely mechanical process, cryogenic process & pyrolysis process. In this section, we will cover all these three process in details.

Mechanical process for waste rubber tire recycling

Waste rubber tire recycling involves the conversion of waste tires into materials that we can use to create new products. Waste rubber tire recycling refers to the process of recycling used vehicle tires that can no longer be used on the vehicles due to wear and tear or irreparable damage. Used waste rubber tires are among the most problematic and challenging sources of solid waste. Waste rubber tire recycling is performed in following steps:

Step 1 :- Collection of waste rubber tires

The first step is the collection of waste rubber tire that you want to recycle. In some cases, these materials come from landfills. In some other cases, people deposit it and send it to the recycling center.

Step 2 :- Shredding of waste rubber tires

The next step is to cut them into small pieces. The reason behind shredding is to reduce the size of tire into a material that can be handled easily. Also, tire processing can take two forms i.e., mechanical systems or cryogenic systems.

Mechanical shredding of waste rubber tire : The mechanical system involves shredding scrap tires into smaller chips at ambient temperature. Depending on the proposed use of the recycled rubber, the waste may be cut into smaller and smaller pieces as the fiber is removed. The end product is called ‘crumb rubber’ which comes in various sizes, depending on the diameter of the crumbs. The higher the mesh size, the smaller the crumb. Because more grinding is required to make the higher mesh crumbs.

Click here to watch waste rubber tire mechanical recycling machine video

Cryogenic shredding of waste rubber tire: The process is called ‘cryogenic’ because the temperature here can go as low as -80 degree Celsius to -120 degree Celsius. Shredded or the whole tire is cooled to -120 degree Celsius and it becomes glass hard and brittle. It is crushed or grounded to a fine size of 50-250 mm in special mills. This process requires less energy and less machinery than the regular process. It is also easier to liberate steel and fiber from the rubber using this process giving us a cleaner product.

Click here to watch waste rubber tires cryogenic recycling machine video

Step 3 :- Sorting

It involves removing textile fibers and steel from the shredded rubber. Typically, this occurs after the shredding process. And it is done using magnets. These magnets draw out the steel fibers from the whole bunch. On the other hand, there is a complex system that removes polyester fibers. This includes shaking screens, low vacuum suction, and wind sifters. Note that this process is very important as they constitute 30 percent of the whole bunch.

Daily Recycling: Where do I begin?

A little girl collecting recycling

I hear you’re wanting to recycle but don’t know where to begin. Worry no more, here is a short guide to recycling for beginners!

First things first, why should you recycle? The world’s natural resources are limited. By recycling, you are reducing the need to use those raw materials from Earth. You are ensuring less waste going into our landfills and less energy being used during the manufacturing process. By recycling, you can help make the world a cleaner and safer place.

So, what is recycling? The definition from the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) says recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. It is a 3-step, ongoing process that is represented by the recycling logo that you are probably familiar with!

Step 3: Purchasing recycled products

In order to complete the loop, the last step is to buy the materials made from the recycled products.

Well, what can I recycle? Let’s start with the basics.

  • Plastics
  • Bottles, containers, cups and utensils.
  • Cardboard and Paper
  • Cereal and snack boxes
  • Magazine and newspapers
  • Mail and other office paper
  • Metal
  • Tin, aluminum, and steel cans
  • Glass
  • Jars
  • Drink bottles
  • Wine/liquor bottles

Alright, now how do I recycle? Well, recycling can be different based on your location. Some cities allow you to recycle certain products and some don’t. So, my best advice to you is to check out your local recycling regulations. See what you can recycle, how it needs to be recycled, and when and where it needs to go.

What happens next you ask? Spread the word and GO RECYCLE!!

Sean Teer manages Envision, a not-for-profit turning plastic bottle tops that would otherwise go to landfill into prosthetic hands and arms. Based in Werribee, the project aims to change the lives of as many disadvantaged people as possible in countries like Cambodia and India. Supported by the global Coca‑Cola Foundation, Melbourne based not-for-profit Envision is in the process of turning bottle caps into mobility aids, or artificial plastic limbs.


  • Set up and ran Progressive Personnel – First centrally based employer marketing service of its type in Australia for Disability Services
  • Author of a number of Articles and book on Job Seeking
  • National Finalist, Best Supervisor Work for the Dole Prime Minister’s Award 2005
  • Author of Self Development Book – Master the Art of Happiness
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