What happens to tires?

What happens to tires?

The industrialization has changed the way humans previously lived. The invention of the vehicle was the most prominent in human history. The automotive industry is a significant economic force worldwide. Each year, the number of cars increases on the roads. According to Statists, almost 78 million motor vehicles will be produced in 2020. This article will explain everything you need to know about the transportation industry and its environmental impacts.

Vehicles play an essential role in our lives. After the tremendous growth of cities, travelling has become more common. Public transport is not always available. Therefore, self-transportation is increasing each day. Transportation industry manufacture rails, trucks, cars, and bikes. The problems are associated with the life cycle of an automobile. From material extraction to its manufacturing, using, and disposal, automobiles have a massive impact on the environment. However, this article will enable you to understand the environmental impacts of tires only. Tires have a significant portion of rubber in them. Before the 20th century, tires were made of natural rubber; this was one of the causes of deforestation. However, with the invention of synthetic rubber, there was less stress on forests for rubber. Today the tires contain almost 29 percent of natural rubber, 25 percent of synthetic rubber, and the rest is made of other materials.

Almost 78 million motor vehicles will be produced in 2020.

All the spheres for the environment are interconnected. Changing in one sphere hurts the rest of the three spheres. Tires cause land pollution, but it also causes air pollution and water pollution. The long-lasting impacts of improper tire management are global warming and climate change.

Thank you Markus Spiske and Unsplash for the image.
Thank you Markus Spiske and Unsplash for the image.

Why are Tires Considered Hazardous?

The composition of tires has made them a hazardous substance. Tires contain rubber, polymer, steel, filler -carbon black and silica – antioxidants, sulphur oxides, zinc oxides, and antiozonants. In 2003, 44 percent of tires were used as fuel, and almost 17 percent were used for civil engineering. The usual practice is to dump the tires in landfill sites or reuse or incinerate them. Tire-derived fuel (TDF) is also one of the recycled firms of tires. The tires are either recycled or burned. The rest of the proportion ended up in landfills. According to UTMA, the number of tires that went to landfills were doubled between 2013 to 2017. The demand for tire-derived due is decreasing. Therefore, more of the tires is needed up in landfills than before. Let’s get into each of these practices one by one.

  1. Dumping in landfill sites:
  2. Reuse and Recycle:
  3. Incineration

Dumping in landfill sites

End of life doesn’t mean the end of impacts. Tires are dumped into landfill sites, where they remain for a long time. If placed on wet soil, hazardous material from tires leach into the groundwater and make it contaminated. Zinc, a potential heavy metal, and rubber compromised the quality of groundwater. Environmental conditions such as pH and humidity level affect the rate of leaching. Studies have found that shredded tires leached readily as their surface area is increased. Nevertheless, the Ecotoxicity is there due to open dumping.  Tires are also placed openly and become a site for the growth of pests. Water settles on the inner sides of tires and offers a suitable environment for mosquitoes which spread diseases among humans and animals. The outbreak of dengue in Asian countries occurs from imported tires that have eggs in them. Tires occupy an ample space and trap methane gas that increases the level of pollution in that area. 

Reuse and Recycle

Tires are a problematic source of waste since their durability is significantly less. However, tires are reused frequently since the rubber is remarkably resilient. The rubber material is used for basketball courts or making new shoes. The material of waste tires is used as filling material also. 


The worst way to manage tires is to incinerate them to get energy. This method has a HUGE impact on human health and the environment. A high temperature of almost 400 degrees is required for several minutes to ignite the material. Fire tires produce a lot of smoke which also contains hazardous toxic substances. These substances remain in the air for a long time, trap sunlight, and lead to global warming. They may cause regional air pollution. A study conducted in 2014 showed that bits of rubber tires were found in the ocean and streams. Tires are among the most common source of plastic pollution on Earth. According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, tires account for 10 percent of global plastic pollution in the ocean.  The production of tires also consumes oil. A truck tire requires almost 22 gallons of oil, while a car tire requires nearly 8 gallons. Tires waste ended up in landfills and waterways. How much of the tires waste goes to rivers? It depends upon the location of the road from rivers and rain. Once the tire particles are made into water bodies, they have disastrous impacts on marine life. 

Positive Impacts

Used tires can be reused for different purposes. For instance, it can be used as a building material, sports field, and playground. According to U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, the reuse of tires has increased from 11 percent in 1990 to 80 percent in 2017. Thus, the tires have wide applications even after the end of use. 


The transportation industry is one of the growing sectors with high economic value. The number of vehicles on the road is increasing day by day. The greater the number of cars on the street, the greater are the tires produced. Specific environmental issues are associated with tires, such as raw material extraction, Ecotoxicity, and pollution. Although the tires are reused and recycled, the practices are not so clean, and they add more pollutants to the environment. The only way to minimize the hazardous impacts of tires is by walking whenever and wherever you can.


  1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/tires-unseen-plastic-polluter?cmpid=int_org=ngp::int_mc=website::int_src=ngp::int_cmp=amp::int_add=amp_readtherest
  2. https://ecogreenequipment.com/how-do-old-discarded-tires-affect-the-environment/
  3. https://archive.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/tires/web/html/basic.html