There are a surprising number of ways to reuse old bicycle tires, from repurposing them into woven doormats and bags to painting on them.
By using the rubber again, you can quickly turn trash into something beautiful or useful. Getting creative is just the tip of the iceberg. What should you do with old bicycle tires?
Bicycle tires are made from synthetic rubber and butyl tubing which needs to be recycled at bike shops, automobile shops or waste management companies because butyl rubber is a petroleum product that doesn’t break down. However, you can repurpose old tires and transform them into tire liners, fashion accessories, like belts and wallets, or use them around the house.
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How To Dispose Of Old Bike Tires
The best way to dispose of old bike tires is to either reuse them yourself or turn them into a local bike shop that will repurpose them.
Sadly, not everyone has the skill or time to use this incredibly durable rubber into a new product, and some areas don’t have bike shops that reuse old tires.
There are special disposal centers designed to handle old tires in these cases.
Can You Throw Away Bike Tires
Bicycle tires are made from synthetic rubber and butyl tubing. Regrettably, neither of these things break down safely or quickly when you put them in landfills.
Most of the US has laws against throwing away whole or partial tires in landfills because they will simply sit there for years, taking up space without significant breakdown.
Each state and county deals with this problem differently. For example, in Tennessee, the individual counties are required to have a unique collection site for tires, and the state handles tire recycling.
Meanwhile, people who throw out illegal waste are subject to fines.
Similarly, Connecticut doesn’t allow tires of any kind, bike or other, to go to the dump. To prevent this, the state has collection facilities within the state.
Though CT lacks the every-county collection site policy, there are still lots of places to take those tires.
According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, “Waste tires generated in the New England states are for the most part managed within New England. Studies show that waste tires generally stay in their area of origin due to the high cost of transportation. The most common management method for waste tires is as fuel for paper mills in Maine. There are three paper mills in Maine that supplement their fuel use with tire-derived fuel (TDF).”
Can Bicycle Tires Be Recycled
Bicycle inner tubes are recyclable, but it isn’t a straightforward process. Since this part of the tire is made from more than ‘just’ rubber, it has to break down into the original components.
Unfortunately, that is beyond most local recycling plants’ capabilities.
The outer part of bicycle tires is not recyclable. The rubber is interlaced with metal wire to help with stability.
This means you get a much longer-lasting ride and tires that are significantly more difficult to puncture. However, metal and rubber aren’t easy to separate, and they can’t be recycled together.
Where To Recycle Old Bike Tires
There are a handful of places you can recycle old tires. Some cities have bike-tire recycling available in their local plants.
However, this is incredibly rare, and you will usually need a different option.
Below I’ve created a quick list to help you figure out where to recycle, but you may need to call or email ahead of time to make arrangements.
- Bike shops often help their customers out by arranging to handle old tires. Some shops even reuse them in-house to create new products.
- Some automobile tire shops have collection bins or accept used-up tires for cars and bicycles.
- Waste management in your area can advise you on where to take old bike tires. Sometimes they have pickup days or accessible drop-off locations. Unfortunately, you’ll find that you have to go further out of your way to get the tires where they need to be in some areas.
- Companies that reuse bike tires often have mail-in options. You can send off those old tires to give them a new life doing something worthwhile. The downside to this option is that you’ll have to do your research to discover who will take them in your area, and you may need to pay for postage.
Should I Keep Old Bike Tires
There are plenty of good reasons to keep old bike tires. Whether you are planning to turn them into something extraordinary like a cool wall shelf or you haven’t yet found a suitable recycling facility, you should always hold on to them.
Ensuring that you dispose of your bike tires properly is part of being a responsible rider.
Cyclists training for a marathon or other event may find that changing tires as soon as they’ve seen minor wear helps you make marginal gains.
A faster time is crucial if you’re racing. However, that leaves extra tires that aren’t worn out but also aren’t helpful to you.
In this case, keep the tires and post them to your local Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, or cycling forums and sell or give them to other cyclists.
How Do You Dispose Of Rubber Inner Tubes
Rubber inner tubes are part of the tire for all intents and purposes. What that means is you dispose of them in the same way.
Either you can recycle them using the methods listed above or find a creative way to reuse them.
If you enjoy a good DIY and want to dispose of your old tubes by turning them into new things you can use around your house or garage, then I strongly recommend this video from Global Cycling Network.
This video shows you how to prevent damage to your bike, get organized, and more using old bike inner tubes.
Helpful Tips To Know About What To Do With Old Bicycle Tires
It is up to you how you decide to handle old bike tires. However, for the sake of future generations, your plans should always involve some form of reusing or recycling.
It’s worth spending a little extra time to locate the necessary facilities if your local recycling program can’t handle tires.
Here are more helpful tips to know about what to do with old bicycle tires.
- If you live in a small town or rural area with no recycling programs, mail-in programs like Alchemy Goods might be the best option if you live too far from the nearest facility or shop that accepts tubes.
- Butyl rubber is a petroleum product, which is why it doesn’t break down the way natural tree rubber does. The added chemicals and petroleum base make a very flexible and durable product that lasts, which is excellent for tires but bad for the planet.
- As Greenmatters explains, “The manmade plastics in the tubing will only partially break down, and unfortunately, they will eventually turn into microplastics, which are beyond harmful to waterways and wildlife.”
The materials that bicycle tires and tubes are made from are unsafe to throw in a landfill. In most places, it’s illegal to toss out synthetic rubber bike tires, but some facilities recycle them.
You can DIY a solution at home and create some cool gear, or even wall shelves from those old tires, or donate them to companies that use the materials to make fuel or new products.
Although proper disposal of bike tires is difficult, it’s worth it to avoid creating more microplastic waste and permanent pollution.