This story was originally published in September 2019.
Good tires are essential to safe driving. If you are swapping out the tires on your vehicle, you may be wondering how you can recycle or reuse car tires instead of sending them to a landfill.
Recycling tires is difficult because tires are designed to be durable. Tires are made from a heavy-duty mixture of synthetic rubber, fiber and steel. Breaking tires down often requires expensive equipment, including heavy-duty shredders, granulators and even cryogenics. As rubber prices continue to fall, recycling centers cannot afford to purchase tire recycling equipment because they cannot make up the cost by reselling the deconstructed materials.
Many recycling facilities do not accept tires at all. Others will burn them for energy or asphalt. When tires pile up in landfills, they attract mosquitoes and are prone to starting fires that are difficult to extinguish and can sometimes last for months.
If you have used car tires to spare, visit your local auto shop first to see if they can be retreaded or repaired. If you want, the shop may recycle old tires for you. Depending on where you live, the cost of new tires may even include a tax that funds the disposal of your old tires.
If not, though, there are many ways to reuse car tires, both indoors and outdoors. Once you remove the aluminum rim and steel weights — both of which can be recycled as scrap — here are 10 ways you can reuse car tires.
The tire swing is a classic way to reuse car tires. Large trees with sturdy branches even seem to invite one. If you have such a bough on your land, setting up a tire swing requires a little bit of handiwork and skill with power tools, but the payoff is years of Rockwellian fun for your kids. Wash the tire thoroughly with a household all-purpose cleaner, and then follow these instructions from famed home improvement television host Bob Vila to upcycle a car tire into a tire swing.
Planters for nonedible plants
Tires are the perfect size for a few potted plants. They can even be creatively stacked and painted to add some pizzazz to your container garden. However, tires contain a number of harmful chemicals and metals, some of which are known or suspected carcinogens, that can leach into edible plants. This DIY from Instructables shows you how to make a blooming planter out of used tires for your nonedible flowers.
Paint, stack and top a few car tires with a little bit of padding to turn them into a seat that can withstand the outdoor elements. This DIY from A Life That We Built shows you how to turn a stack of tires into a handy — and colorful — outdoor seat.
Shredded tire mulch is a popular, springy surface for pathways and playgrounds. You rent an industrial-grade shredder and make your own shredded tire mulch. The tire tread can also be cut from the rest of the tire into long strips to add traction to slick walkways.
If you have a small to medium-sized dog, a car tire is the perfect size for a comfortable, cozy dog bed. Check out this DIY from Practically Functional to make one for your precious pooch.
Sandboxes are fun outdoor playpens for adventurous children. If you make one from an old tire, not only can you save money, but you can also decorate it however you want. Follow these easy instructions from Creating Really Awesome Fun Things. For a slightly larger sandbox, you can use an old tractor tire instead of a car tire.
If you are willing to commit to a little creative upholstery, upcycled car tires are the perfect size for an adorable ottoman. Follow this DIY from 1001 Gardens to make a trendy-looking rope-covered ottoman, whether you want to put it on your patio or in your living room.
Tires provide excellent support, shape and sealant for backyard ponds. They are also easy to bury, stack or tier for creative landscaping. This DIY from Hanidmania shows you how to reuse car tires to turn your backyard into an oasis.
If you are not having any luck repelling mosquitoes while you work in your yard, try making a mosquito trap out of old tires.
Scientists from Laurentian University, with help from Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health, took advantage of the fact that mosquitoes love to breed in old tires and created a trap called Ovillanta, made from two 20-inch sections of rubber car tires with a fluid release on the bottom.
The tires are hung from a tree or fence and filled with a nontoxic solution, a chemical pheromone to attract mosquitoes and a wooden strip for mosquitoes to lay eggs. The wooden strip is removed twice a week and the mosquito eggs are destroyed using fire or ethanol. Over time, the solution collects even more mosquito pheromones, which attracts even more mosquitoes. Watch this video DIY to create your own Ovillanta and test it yourself.
If you have multiple bikes, you can store them easily and efficiently by making an organizer using old car tires. Bury half of the tire underground, about a bike wheel’s width apart from one another, and slide your bike wheel into the slots between them. This DIY from Instructables shows you how.
How do you reuse car tires? Add your best upcycling ideas to the comments below.