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Bulldozer Pushing Scrap Tires

Scrap Tire Markets

The 3 largest scrap tire markets are:

Other applications include:

Both recycling and beneficial use of scrap tires has expanded greatly in the last decade through increased emphasis on recycling and beneficial use by state, local and Federal governments, industry, and other associations.

Unfortunately, even with all of the reuse and recycling efforts underway, not all scrap tires can be used beneficially. More information on scrap tire disposal.

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Whole Tires and Cut, Stamped, and Punched Products

Scrap tires may be recycled by cutting, punching, or stamping them into various rubber products after removal of the steel bead. Products include floor mats, belts, gaskets, shoe soles, dock bumpers, seals, muffler hangers, shims, and washers.

Whole tires may be recycled or reused as highway crash barriers, for boat bumpers at marine docks, and for a variety of agricultural purposes.

For additional information on reuse and recycling of scrap tires, see:

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Another market for scrap tires is retreading. Retreading involves removing the outside, or tread, of the tire and adding a new tread. Retreading saves millions of gallons of oil each year, because it takes only seven gallons of oil to retread a used tire compared to 22 gallons to produce a new tire.

Retread tires not only offer considerable environmental and economic benefits, but they also provide quality, comfort, and safety comparable to that of new tires.

The Tire Retread Information Bureau Exit EPA estimates that about 24 million tires are retread and sold each year in the US and Canada, combined. The Rubber Manufacturing Association estimates that in the US, about 16 million scrap tires were retreaded in 2001. Most are used by the trucking, aircraft, construction, and agriculture industries, and on US government vehicles. Benefits of retreading are that it:

The 290 million scrap tires generated in 2003 do not include the 16.5 million scrap tires that were retreaded.

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Pyrolysis is a method to break down tires into potentially usable end products. Called by a variety of names, such as thermal distillation and destructive distillation, pyrolysis is the heating of organic compounds in a low oxygen environment.


Pyrolysis of waste tires generates combustible gases, oil, and char products. The quantity and quality of each product depends on variables including temperature, pressure, and residence time. Outputs for a typical pryolysis process are:

Market Trends

Although many attempts have been made over the past several decades, EPA is not aware of any commercial pyrolysis systems operating continuously in the US. According to the US Rubber Manufacturers Association’s 2007 Edition, Scrap Tire Markets in the United States Exit EPA, tire pyrolysis did not play a role in the management of scrap tires in the United States as of late 2007. One reason for this is that the value of the pyrolysis-derived oil, char, and gas has thus far has been lower than the overall cost of the pyrolysis process that produced them. The technology continues to be explored for commercial feasibility, and there are a limited number of pilot operations that have been built.

Practical Considerations

When investigating the pyrolysis process, some of the practical considerations include:

Additional Information

The Manufacture of Carbon Black From Oils Derived From Scrap Tires

2007 Edition, Scrap Tire Markets in the United States (US Rubber Manufacturers Association, May 2009)

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