Ideas for Recycling and Upcycling Tires (With Videos)

Updated on May 1, 2020
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Margarida Borges is interested in recycling and environmental issues.

A pile of burning tires.
A pile of burning tires.

Tires: A Problematic Source of Waste

Tires are among the largest and most problematic sources of waste. Not only are they produced in enormous quantities, but they are also tremendously durable and contain components that are ecologically problematic.

Stockpiles of scrap tires create a great health and safety risk:

  • As they may hold water for long periods, they are excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes associated with yellow fever and dengue disease.
  • Tire fires can smolder for several weeks or even months, sometimes with dramatic effect on the surrounding environment.

Although tires are usually burned, not recycled, efforts are continuing to find value in old tires. Recent developments in devulcanization promise to deal with substantial volumes, converting tires into potential value-added materials.

Tires can be reused in many ways. New products derived from waste tires generate more economic activity than burning or other low-multiplier production. New products reduce the waste stream without generating excessive pollution and emissions from recycling operations.

Recycling Tires: A Road to Success

The noise barriers being built along the motorway near Zagreb are made up of 40 percent recycled tires and are among the most efficient on the market.

They are the result of a project launched in 2009 as part of the European Eco-Innovation programme.

Eco-Friendly Home Construction

An Ontario couple built this eco-friendly earthship home for $70,000. Craig Cook gave CBC News a tour of the eco-friendly earthship home that he and his wife Connie built out of tires, bottles, cans, dirt and concrete.

Earthship Biotecture

Earthships are radically sustainable buildings made with recycled materials.
Earthships can be built in any part of the world and in any climate, and they provide
solar power, catchwater, contained sewage treatment and sustainable food production.

A Recycled Rubber Tire Factory That Supplies Bali & Beyond With Furniture

Bali & Beyond is a Direct Trade importing company founded upon the principles of ethical purchasing and community-enhancing solutions. They take a holistic approach to sourcing handcrafted "one of a kind" art and furniture from Balinese artisans.

Recycled-Tire Basket: GoYarok

Possible uses of this basket made from recycled tires:

Indoors: The beauty of this basket makes it a perfect indoor decoration. It can be used as fruit and vegetable storage. This lovely basket is also a wonderful solution for bath accessories / kid's toys / hardware tool storage.

Outdoors: Most recommended as pots for flowers and herbs. Can also be perfectly used as a fruit-picking basket, a stone carrier, a basket for miners (sort of a gold-rush style basket) and archaeologists. It can be used as green-style picnic ware, as a basket for garden waste and compost making, a napping basket for a dog or cat, storage of cans or pet food, and so much more.

Recycled/Repurposed Tires: A How-to From Cambodia

This is a unique way of recycling old tires in Cambodia. The tires are one step beyond planters and they are all over the country. Someone is making these with a will. It is truly fantastic - they should export them.

Making Shoes From Tires

Charles Kabuphi demonstrates how to make shoes out of rubber tires in Kimana market, Kenya.

Tire Garden for Food Production

In this series of short videos from UUSC, Mark Hare from the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP) describes the materials needed to make a tire garden for food production. These container gardens are part of their work to support sustainable livelihoods in Haiti.

Making Items by Cutting Tires

A journalist by training, Samuel, who once eked out a living reporting for a radio station in Kampala realized he could not meet his targets with the meagre salary he earned and quit the job. Samuel then took up tire-cutting from which he makes car carpets, engine bushes, and sandals among others. He earns 30,000 shillings daily and has managed to cater for the needs of his family for the last three years.

Tires and Art

As you can see in this movie, tires can also be recycled as art mediums and symbolize our throw away society and related environmental issues.

There are much more artists that transform used tires and even found hubcaps into beautiful art that’s been displayed in some of the world’s top museums and galleries.

DIY Tire-Repurposing Projects

It's really amazing the creative ideas you can find to upcycle old tires. Some of them are not difficult at all and can add value to gardens and homes without spending a lot of money. I've chosen some cool ideas to inspire you.

How to Make a Belt out of a BMX Tire

How to Make Sandals

How to Make a Dragon Tire Swing

How to Make a Garden Feature Wall With Tires

How to Use Tires as Flower Pots

Benefits of Recycling Tires

  • Recycling saves large amounts of energy reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For example, recycling four tires reduces CO2 by about 323 pounds, which is equivalent to 18 gallons of gasoline.
  • Using recycled rubber in molded products creates a carbon footprint up to 20 times smaller as compared to using virgin plastic resins.
  • Eliminates breeding ground for mosquitoes
  • Reduces potential for tire fires
  • The rubber recycling industry generates billions in economic activity and provides direct and indirect paying jobs.


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