Don’t Trash That Tread: Recycling Bike Tires and Tubes

How to recycle bicycle tires

Creative Commons License photo credit: victorsounds

Riding a bike is more eco-friendly than driving a car, but what do you do after those tires wear out, and you’re not able to patch them up? Many people and manufacturers realize the value of recycled rubber. Tires can be shredded and ground into various sizes of powders, crumbs and nuggets and made into new products.

Where To Take Old Tires and Tubes

While it’s possible for an auto place to accept and process bike tires and tubes (the rubber is the same either way), the charge for that service is greater than the costs of landfilling. The business model works for auto tire recycling because there are laws against putting auto tires in landfills in most U.S. states. This is not the case for bicycle tires. So if you are willing to pay a fee, then find an auto tire recycler and they should have no problems processing your bike tires and tubes. Some tire processors will take bike tires for free, some charge, and some don’t take them at all. The charge can be something nominal, like ten cents per tire, and sometimes processors will accept the tubing as well, as long as it’s off the rim. Check out our article on recycling car tires for tips on finding an auto tire recycler.

  • Try contacting a local bike shop and see if they will accept your old tires for recycling.
  • If you live in one of the several states where Liberty Tire Recycling has auto tire processing locations, you may be able to recycle your bike tires there. Take a look at this map to find your nearest Liberty Tire Recycling collection facility. Once you figure out the collection location for your state (if it has one), give them a call to ask specifically about bike tires.
  • Costco will also accept bike tires and tubes for recycling in some communities, so you can check with your local Costco.
  • REI stores have various recycling initiatives depending on location, so giving them a call is another idea.
  • Check out Carbon Racing’s Recycle to Cycle, which has some great information and statistics about recycling bicycle tires, and looks like a promising up and coming program.

Besides having some seriously cool furniture made out of recycled bikes, Bike Furniture Design will accept your old bike parts. Take a look at the types of bike parts they’re asking for, which include inner tubes, and where to send them on their recycling page. In addition, they’ll give you a discount for mailing in bike parts for them to use.

Upcycling Options

Getting tired of your current accessories? Try these intiresting recycled goods. A small amount of your purchase through any of these links goes to us to keep the site going and continue to promote recycled products and provide recycling information.

Start a tread tend with a bike tire belt. Each belt is handmade from a different tire, so each one has a distinct pattern to its tread.

Totally Tubular: Recycled Bicycle Inner Tubes

Old bike inner tubes can be upcycled into some seriously cool and functional items.

Alchemy Goods recycles tire inner tubes into sweet bags and wallets out of Seattle, Washington. Try sending an email to their Recycling Coordinator at recycling@alchemygoods.com to find out if there’s a bike shop near you that recycles with them.

This laptop case is Durable water-resistant and made from inner tubes collected from bike shops.

This handy wallet is hand-crafted and produced in a 100 percent waste-free process in which all leftover materials are either reused or recycled.


Reclaimed bike tubes are super soft for your hands, and when your dog bounds along in the water, this leash is also quick-drying and won’t start to smell!

Moving a little further north to Toronto, Mariclaro Canada is a small design collective that uses not only recycled inner tubes, but incorporates seat belts as well to create bags that are 99% recycled (everything but the label and thread).

Artemis bag made with recycled bike tubes, furniture upholstery and seat belts. Courtesy of Mariclaro Canada.

According to Sven Schlegel at their store, “By re-using industrial materials headed for landfill, we are significantly increasing their life cycle. This reduces the need for energy-intensive resource extraction and minimizes the harmful emissions created by manufacturers in producing new materials.

“We redefine the function of materials that are at the end of their original lifetime and give them another life. To be at the end of the lifetime doesn’t influence the quality of the materials. For example. a car seat from a car involved in an accident still has amazingly strong and aesthetically appealing upholstery. We think it is important to demonstrate that it is possible to create functional and aesthetically appealing goods from waste material. And it means fun!”

They will launch a jewelry line in spring and a clothing line in the fall of 2011, so stay tuned!


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3 Responses to Don’t Trash That Tread: Recycling Bike Tires and Tubes
  1. Davidson Lewis
    January 17, 2012 | 11:01 am

    We have tons of bike tube recycling locations. You can check them out at http://www.greengurugear.com/recycling.html .

    We also make some amazing gear from the tubes and more!

  2. mark englehart
    October 18, 2012 | 11:17 am

    Hello,
    I work at REI and as of 10/18/12 we are still looking for a place to recycle our used tires. You might want to mention that in this article. It wouldnt hurt to call your local REI, but just be aware that they may not have the answer yet.

  3. Tim Alcala
    March 4, 2014 | 10:56 am

    Bicycle Re-cycle has been re purposing tubes and tires for 2 years now with over 22,000 pounds diverted from landfills.

    bicyclerecycle.com

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