How are tyres recycled and why is it important?
Updated 20 Apr 2021
Tyres are a vital element of the motoring world, looks like that will still be the case even when those all-electric, all-autonomous machines hit our highways and byways.
The problem is tyres do not last forever - 40,000 kilometres is considered a reasonable average these days - and spent tyre carcasses can become a health and serious environmental problem.
A passenger car tyre apparently contains around seven kilograms of rubber, 1.5kg of steel and half a kilo of textiles.
An intact tyre takes up more space than its volume and is a great home for snakes, spiders and mosquitoes.
So whole tyres are not great for landfill, no good for burning off.
Many civic authorities now ban, or restrict, used tyres from local dumps so these now need to be handled by tyre dealers and passed on to recyclers.
And with some estimating that Australians scrap 50 million tyres a year, recycling rubber has become more important than ever.
Some old tyres get used for kids’ swings, or maybe race circuit barriers.
Maybe carved into swans for garden ornaments. But that doesn’t take care of that many.
Others may be exported overseas where they are burnt for fuel in industrial furnaces, in parts of Asia in particular.
But recycling - breaking down and re-using the elements of a tyre - is becoming a bigger business across the motoring world.
New technologies have made that process easier and cleaner.
According to the distillation experts, recycling a typical used 10 kg car tyre will give up 4kg of carbon, 1.5kg of steel and 4 litres of oil, while a 70kg truck tyre will provide 28 kg of carbon, 11 kg of steel and 28 litres of oil.
Many tyres are shredded which also saves space at landfill rubbish dumps; or these crumbs can be used in asphalt mixes for asphalt and elsewhere, such as artificial turf, conveyor belts or soft surfaces for sports fields and playgrounds.
These days Australian Tyre Recyclers Association members across the country recycle more than 20 million used tyres each year, around 400,000 per week.
Check with your local tyre dealer through AutoGuru on the condition of your car’s tyres and then on how best to dispose of worn-out rubber.
Article image: Australian Tyre Recyclers Association
Bruce McMahon is a Queensland-based journalist who’s spent a fair slice of his career dealing with automotive matters.
His first car was a 1949 Riley Roadster, followed by a mix of machinery from Porsches to Jeeps, Alfa Romeos and Range Rovers through to the current four-wheel drive Mazda ute.
He’s driven the Nurburgring and the Tanami Tracks.