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New Uses for Old Tires, that Solve an Environmental Problem

Updated on January 24, 2011

Millions of Tires are Thrown Away Anually - What to do with Them

Did you know that:

  • Every year more than one billion (1,000,000,000) new tires are produced allover the world in more than 500 factories.
  • About three hundred million (300,000,000) old tires are replaced annually in US alone.
  • Nearly one billion used old tires per year have to be disposed.
  • Disposing old tires has become a serious problem.
  • Used old tyres are a health hazard and an environmental problem.

Do you know where all these used old tires go?

  • Out of the Three Hundred Million old tires disposed in USA  about 8% are exported for reusing.
  • About 50% are recycled
  • 10% are used in land fills
  • 10% are used for Road Construction as Rubberized Asphalt Concrete
  • 5% Are used as fuel to generate electricity and in some industries like cement
  • Balance are thrown away and dumped illegally

Do you know that old tires become a health hazard:

  • By becoming ideal breeding places for mosquitoes that spread deadly diseases like Dengue fever, Chikungunya, Malaria and Filariasis
  • By adding various hazardous materials to ground water

Read on for more on the present situation and what we can do about to protect the environment.

A Tyre Pile - Ideal Breeding Pools for Mosquitoes

A Tire Pile - How Many More Like  this are There?
A Tire Pile - How Many More Like this are There?

Tire Piles - Breeding Pools for Mosquitoes

The tires are piled up in dumping yards till they are disposed of. Sometimes they are simply thron away lying allover. Two of the uses for old tyres are using them as weights to keep tarpaulins in place or keep the roofing sheets blown away by the wind. Sometimes they are used as buffers for boats at boat yards and marinas or road bends. All these uses exposes the old tires to rain, making them to collect rainwater that in turn become breeding pools for mosquitoes.

Dengue Fever, Chickungunya, Malaria and Filariasis are some of the fatal diseases carried and spread by mosquitoes. This is the biggest health hazard caused by old tires. According to World Health Organization (WHO) 40% of the world population, 2.5 million people are at risk of getting Dengue fever.

Water Pollution and air Pollution Caused by Tires.

Tire dumps, tires in landfills, tire scraps used for roads all leach chemicals hazardous for human health, to environment. These chemicals pollute the surface and ground water. Some chemicals leached from old tires contain hormone disruptors and some cause permanent impairments to fetus. Use of old tires burnt as a fuel in cement kilns, power stations and other places of burning add many toxic gases to the atmosphere. The hazardous chemicals chemicals from old tyres are Dioxins, Furans, Nitrogen oxides, Sulfur oxides, Lead and Chromium compounds. Used tires are the biggest waste item that makes a problem for recycling due to the large volume and long time that takes for decay. The traditional methods of disposing tires are either inappropriate or inadequate. Therefore new ways of disposing old tires have to be found to minimize the health and environmental hazards.

Another Hazardous Use of Old Tires

Tyre Fires are Extremely Dificult to be Extinguished

Another problem with the tyre piles and tire dumps are the risk of catching fire. Once started a tire fire is very difficult to be extinguished, sometimes taking months to put off. This raises many safety issues and air pollution that takes pollutants for miles by the wind. The problem old tires will become a global issue due to the explosion of vehicle usage in Asian countries like China, India and ASEAN countries. The only solution is finding new methods employing new technologies by diverting funds for more research. Incentives have to be given for recycling businesses employing safe technologies so that they become viable.

New Uses for Old Tires.

Produce Diesel - Pyrolysis

Making Tire Derived Fuel (TDF) is the largest single use of old tires. Old tires shredded to pieces of about one to two inches are added to coal used as fuel in cement kilns and power stations. But strong protests due to the environmental concerns new methods have to be found. Pyrolysis is the most promising of the new technologies used for tire disposal. Pyrolysis is a method that can be compared to wood gasification. This process produces fuel gases, liquid fuels like Benzine, Diesel and Kerosene leaving carbon black and steel wires. As the products are high quality energy sources this may become a lucrative business also. Bi-products too have ready markets.

Using Microwave and Ultrasound for Recycling

These two innovative technologies use Microwave and ultrasound to break up long chains of molecules in rubber to produce products like fuel gases, liquid fuels, carbon black and mouldable soft rubbers similar to some plastics.These disposal methods are desirable because they do not contribute to pollution.

Retreading and Recapping

This can be applied only for reasonably good tires that have no damage to the tire walls and to the reinforcing steel. Improving the existing technology and tire retreading machinery is needed to retread handle more and more tires.

Cryogenic Recycling

This method uses liquid Nitrogen to cool the crumb rubber to -100 degrees Celsius. At this temperature rubber becomes brittle and can be ground to a powder that can be used for making rubber products. This technology also has to be developed to make it commercially viable.


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    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      5 years ago from Srilanka

      Dear Peter, I agree with you. But our society and whole systems of economics, politics, education etc is developed around justifying the existence of a major part of the population on the production of food for whole population by a minority of the population. So, the jobs of lawyers politicians, preachers, doctors, engineers, consultants, entertrainers etc. have to exist and have to be justified. So the young polit from UK also is right. Anyway, Food for thought.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Whenever you go to get a set of new tyres on your vehicles, after paying for the tyres including GST ect ect. you drive out of the place feeling like you have just been mugged. Wouldn't it be a great if when you bought a vehicle the tyres would last as long as the steering wheel, never having to be replaced.

      Many years ago I came up with a simple, cheap and easy design or process that could be applied to any tyre new or old. This meant the tyre would never wear and never puncture. This would have solved the world’s problem of old tyres lying in dumps around the world. A home for mosquitoes and a health hazard.

      I sent the design to Green peace and several world governments. FREE. However only received one reply from a young British politician. Was told, Great idea, we tested it and it works. However he further added it would never be used in the UK for several reasons.

      To many jobs in the tyre industry would go, many businesses that had developed in the tyre re-cycling industry would have to close and the massive revenue including tax from tyres would diminish or cease.

      So it makes you wonder do the people and governments who tell us old tyres are a problem really want to see this problem go away.



    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      6 years ago from Srilanka

      Thanks Peter! I read your story and understand the benefits that can be gained if it is refined and developed to market level and the losses to be faced by some vested interests. Some day, somebody who has the capability (and desire) may implement it and reap billions while helping all of us. Good luck.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Years ago I was sitting on my boat after completing a dive. I had been having a problem over the years with the fender on my boats small dingy. No matter what I used, rubber, plastic or rope it alway's wore out. So as I sat there in my wetsuit I was thinking, it was over 30 years old and had never worn. It was made of 2 way stretch material (No rubber) and unlike the normal wetsuit had never worn due to the extra material in it. So with this in mind I took a length of 1 inch diameter plastic fire hose, securing the end with stainless bolt and washers to the dinghy’s side I then looped it and 12 inches from the first bolt I secured it and so on until the job was complete. The extra bowing of the hose gave me a spring like fender. It never wore and lasted years without needing replacement. So with this in mind we did a rough experiment on a vehicles rear tyres. Taking a length of tyre retread strip we secured it to the tyre with glue and rivets making sure to force extra material into the length of the retread instead of the usual stretching. End result the tyre never punctured and never wore. So if this method was refined and used, most of the old tyres and new tyres around the world could have this process applied to them and this would mean one set of tyres would last the life of several vehicles. Great idea you might say, however many governments around the world will not take this onboard, as one politician told me it would affect to many jobs and would be a massive reduction in revenue for companies and government.

      Regards Peter

    • CWanamaker profile image


      7 years ago from Arizona

      I didn't know you could make diesel from old tires. That's awesome! Awesome Hub man.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Not bad

      looks amazing.. good work.

      Tires in Miami

    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      7 years ago from Srilanka

      Yes, the trick is to find innovative technologies and new uses. Thanks for visit and the comment.

    • profile image


      7 years ago


    • samsons1 profile image


      7 years ago from Tennessee

      voted up and useful! Thanks for this informative hub and welcome to HubPages...

    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      7 years ago from Srilanka

      Dear JY3502. Thank you very much for visiting and the comment especially for the good advice. To tell you the truth, I have never had a formal education in English. My English is self taught. Anyway i am very happy to be able to understand and make myself understood. And have to improve to a very high level to be a writer. That is a very painstaking task at my age. Still I am trying and follow your advice.

      Tire and Tyre both have to be used for websites as the people use both words in their searches. If some people use "tier" to mean Tyre or tire that also have to be used in the hub to get those who search for tier for the tire.

      I read your great hubs on aircraft especially SR-71.

      Looking for more and intend finish reading all.

      Thanks again.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Hi Sun Pen. Great article and very interesting. However, no offense intended, you need to work on grammar, English and spelling. Like, tyre is spelled tire in the U.S. Check some of my older hubs. I have a few on writing tips I've learned over the years. But it is a very good article otherwise.

    • agvulpes profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      Very good information on used tyres. I have been around the tyre industry for many years and have seen the stockpiles of used tyres. There have been many attempts to recycle the byproducts of these recycled tyres but one of the big problems is removing the steel from the mixture.

    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      7 years ago from Srilanka

      Thank you imfljunior.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      excellent idea ,m making a presentation as working for tyre company for new service initiative for engaging customers lifelong and by adopting this methodology a company can become only company with eco-friendly company in business thanks dear.

    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      7 years ago from Srilanka

      Hi! Bigbrother.

      Thanks for visiting and for commenting. Yes, all of us shall act responsibly on environmental matters. Remember Lily Pond Example?

      Thanks imfljunior, for visiting and commenting.

    • imfljunior profile image


      7 years ago from East coast United States

      Wow just did a bit of research on the number on produced tires within a year... I was astonished to read that your figures are true. Talk about a drastic change that needs to be made.

      Awesome hub, eye opening indeed.

    • Big Brother profile image

      Alex Valis 

      7 years ago from Earth

      Thanks for this Hub. Yes i agree tyres are really big problem for this plannet.

    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      7 years ago from Srilanka

      Thanks Happy Hubber, The contribution of small scale disposal methods become visible when the number of people using that method is quite high. Of course if one prson can think of a way to dispose one set of tires in an environmentally healthy way per year then there is no problem to talk about

      Your proposal also is one such good example. thanks for the idea. But the problem is disposing about one billion.. (globally)

    • Happy Hubber profile image

      Hallie Harris 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      This is a great HUB! I would like to differ in your opinion that road and boat bumpers are a bad re-use of old tires because they collect water. That problem could be easily alleviated by drilling a couple of holes in the bottom of the tires.

      I would also like to add another recycled use of tires. There are some playgrounds around me that use ground up tires rather than wood chips. While a little dirty, they are softer, more comfortable and protection from falls. Although, I can not comment on the potential environmental or health effect of such a use.

    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      7 years ago from Srilanka

      Thanks Kerry, A lot of advice. As I am a novice It may take time to do all the things suggested. Great. I'll reply the message sooner. Good luck to you.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hello again, I just wanted to let you know I sent you a message ,which you will probably find in your email inbox (please also check your spam folder)

      Have a fun day!


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Terrific hub, so full of information. It's sad to see the damage we are doing to our own world.


    • Sun Pen 50 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sun Pen 50 

      7 years ago from Srilanka

      Yes, I want to add more innovative uses, but on small scale. Yet so many micro projects also will remove another big heap. Thanks for compliment.

    • BobbiRant profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      This is great. With so many used tires hanging around we should put them to better use. Great hub, enjoyed reading it very much.


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