How to Recycle Used Tires in Pennsylvania

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How to Recycle Used Tires in Pennsylvania
Image Credit: Aleksandr Zubkov/Moment/GettyImages

Waste tire piles are an environmental hazard and a safety risk. The state of Pennsylvania implemented the Waste Tire Recycling Act in 1996 to clean up tire piles and ensure that tires were recycled moving forward. There are many locations in the state where you can recycle your tires.

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How to Recycle Tires

If you are getting your tires replaced in a shop, you can ask if they will recycle the tires for you. In some cases, this may be included in the fee, or there may be a small charge. If you are recycling tires yourself, first prepare the tires by removing the rim and wheel weights. You can recycle the scrap metal separately if desired.

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Then, find the best location to recycle your tires. You can search for a location using the recycling locator tool on Earth911.com or RecycleSearch.com. Many Pennsylvania counties have recycling locations open for residents of the county. You can find these on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection website. Once you select a location and confirm the drop-off hours, take your tires to the location and pay any required fees.

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Tire Recycling Process

Once at the recycling center, the tires are broken down and repurposed. First, the tires are shredded, and the steel wire that is woven throughout the tire is removed. Then, the rubber is further processed. It may be cut up into pieces of various sizes or even a fine powder. This may be done with a machine that cuts the rubber or by freezing the rubber with liquid nitrogen and crushing the frozen tire.

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Shredded tires may be used in playground flooring or in synthetic turf. The rubber may also be cleaned and separated with chemicals to then make new tires. Recycled material may also be used in rubberized asphalt or road embankments. Alternatively, the tires may be incinerated and converted to energy.

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Dangers of Tire Waste

Waste tire piles can be dangerous to the community. First, the tires can easily catch fire. While this is a beneficial source of energy in a controlled setting, in a dump, the fire can burn for a long period of time, and it is very difficult to extinguish the fire. The smoke from the fire contains toxic chemicals that pollute the air.

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Toxins from the rubber can also seep into the soil and groundwater, potentially affecting the drinking water of many people and animals depending on the location of the dump. Many dangerous and nuisance creatures also enjoy using tires as their home. This includes mosquitos, ticks, snakes and rodents.

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Penalties for Not Recycling

If you dump your tires in Pennsylvania rather than recycling them, you may face criminal or civil charges under the Waste Tire Recycling Act. If you are criminally convicted, you may face up to 30 days in prison and a fine of up to $1,000 for the first offense and up to 90 days and a fine of up to $5,000 for a subsequent conviction. You may also be subject to a civil penalty of up to $25,000 per offense.

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