Playgrounds, turf fields, asphalt roadways, traffic cones, and signs—what do these items have in common? They can all be made from recycled tires.
That’s right; thanks to the Tire Recycling Act of 1989 those old tires on your car have been reborn into some creative items.
It all started in the 1980s when tire fires created by piles of illegally dumped tires sparked all over the state. The dark smoke and burning rubber was an environmental nightmare.
“Dumped tires are fire hazards and breeding grounds for mosquitos and other vectors that threaten public health,” says Lance Klug, Information Officer at CalRecycle. “Recycling them helps California close the loop and turn the waste we produce into a resource for local businesses,”
Fast forward 30 years and 80 percent of rubber tires in California serve a better purpose. Forty percent are turned into new products including rubberized pavement for high-traffic roadways, rubberized chip-seal for low-traffic roadways, civil engineering products such as retaining walls, traffic signs and cones, wheelchair ramps, crumb rubber used in sports fields, playground surfaces, and more.
The new product is better, too. Not only do these projects give used tires a place to go (other than the landfill), they offer additional benefits, too. Rubberized pavement made with tires is less noisy and keeps those yellow lines vibrant longer; rubberized chip seal is less expensive and is a great tool for resurfacing; rubber used for retaining walls is light weight and drains well; and manufacturer products are better for the environment.
A series of grants make tire recycling possible for many. Most consumers simply drop their tires with a salesperson after replacement. The cost of recycling was one incentive for many to simply throw them out, and because throwing away tires isn’t illegal, it was happening often.
Now manufacturers receive grant money for using recycled tires and tire shops are getting paid for the product instead of paying to recycle, encouraging both entities to increase their efforts.
Want to recycle your own tires? Keep an eye out for local amnesty events, or call the Stockton tire-recycling department.
Waste Recovery West
4554 S. El Dorado St., Stockton
By the Numbers
In 2017, 48.5 million tires were disposed of in California
18% of those tires were retreaded or sold on the used tire market
16% were used for tire-derived fuel in California
14% were recycled into crumb rubber
4% were used to cover trash in landfills
1% were used in civil engineering projects
40% of tires disposed of in California are recycled
$1.75 the tire tax buyers pay to support recycling programs
1,300 registered haulers transported recycled tires in 2016
Numbers provided by Lance Klug at Cal Recycle