Scrap Tires

Stockpiles of scrap tires have been reduced by 81 percent since 1990.

Sixty Percent of the Rubber consumed in the United States is used to make tires. Raw materials used to make tires include rubber (41 percent), carbon black (28 percent), steel (15 percent) and other materials (16 percent).

In 2006, 306 million new tires were shipped for use by cars and trucks. Of these, 244 million (80 percent) were for passenger cars and 62 million (20 percent) were for trucks. In addition, 60 million (20 percent) were “original equipment” tires and 246 million (80 percent) were replacements for used tires.

In 2005, 299.6 million scrap tires were generated. Two-thirds were from passenger cars, and the remainder came from trucks, heavy equipment, aircraft, off-road and scrapped vehicles.

Scrap tires present unique recycling and disposal challenges because they are heavy, bulky and are made from a variety of materials. Three of every five recovered scrap tires are used as tire-derived fuel (TDF), which is a low-sulfur, high-heating value fuel. Scrap tires can be recycled as whole or split tires, or as crumb (ground) or shredded rubber. Whole tires are used for artificial reefs and playground equipment; split tires for floor mats, belts, and dock bumpers; crumb rubber for mudguards, carpet padding, tracks and athletic surfaces, and rubberized asphalt; shredded tires for road embankment or roadfill material.

Chaz Miller is state programs director for the National Solid Wastes Management Association, Washington, D.C. E-mail the author at:


“Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2006,” Office of Solid Waste,

“U.S. Scrap Tire Markets 2005,” Rubber Manufacturers Association,

Tire Retread Information Bureau,

*Data is from 2006 EPA estimates.

Scrap Tires Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Facts:


  • 3.9 million tons, or 1.6% by weight.*

  • One scrap tire per person, per year.

  • A car scrap tire weighs 20 pounds (lbs.).

  • A truck scrap tire weighs 100 lbs.

  • A steel-belted radial car tire has 2.5 lbs. of steel.


  • 1.36 million tons, or 34.9% recycling rate.*

  • 259.2 million tires for an 86.6% recovery rate (2005 industry figures).

Recycled Content:

  • New tires can have a small amount of recycled rubber.

  • Retreads contain 75% recycled content.


  • Shredded tire chips can be used as a bulking agent in composting wastewater treatment sludge.

Burned or Landfilled:

  • 2.54 million tons, or 1.5% of discarded MSW by weight.*

  • 15,000 Btus per pound, slightly higher than coal.

  • Unlandfilled scrap tires can be a mosquito breeding area.

  • If landfilled tires fail to compress, they can rise up and resurface.

  • 31 states ban whole tires from landfills and 12 states ban all scrap tires from landfills.

Scrap Tire Stockpiles:

  • 188 million scrap tires remain in stockpiles, an 81% reduction since 1990.


  • EPA landfill volume data does not include tires.

Source Reduction:

  • Rotate and balance tires every 6,000 miles, and keep at their recommended air pressure levels to ensure longer life.

  • 16.3 million tire casings retreaded in 2005.

Scrap Tire Markets:

  • 60% of recovered tires go to tire derived fuel (TDF).

  • Civil engineering (20%) and ground rubber (14%) are the next largest markets.

Scrap Tire Market Specifications:

  • Each market has its own specifications.

Scrap Tire Value:

  • Generators usually pay a tip fee.

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