How To Recycle Old Bike Tires {Explained!}

By Rebekah Pierce

Looking to recycle your old bike tires? You’re in luck! Here’s a guide on how to recycle bike tires into new and innovative products. Keep reading for more information.

What Can You Do With Old Bike Tires?

It’s never fun when you pop a bike tire. However, it is unfortunately, a common occurrence, especially if you live in a city where potholes are just as ubiquitous as pigeons! 

Changing your bike tire yourself is often the cost-efficient (and faster) way to get a new tire on the bike immediately. However, while shops often know (and have access to) the best disposal methods for your old tires, you’re left fumbling in the dark while you figure out what to do with them on a DIY job.

There are a few ways you can get rid of old bike tires – none of them involve dumping them on the side of the road, so don’t despair! Here are some tips. 

Can You Recycle Old Bike Tires?

Like car tires, most bike tires aren’t recyclable – at least, not in the traditional sense. You can’t throw your old bike tires in the recycling bin that gets picked up curbside each week.

Now, there’s an exception to this. Mountain bike tires aren’t made out of the same materials as regular bicycle tires (which we’ll talk about a bit more below). They are made with a woven fabric base layer, a beading along the rims that holds the tire in place, and an outer rubber coating. 

Most road bicycle tubes are made out of a material called butyl rubber. This is a non-biodegradable type of synthetic plastic. It has chemical additives that make them impossible to recycle. Most recycling stations will only handle “pure” substances and throwing bike tires in the mix will contaminate items that actually are recyclable – meaning they’ll have to go to the landfill. 

Sending your old bike tires to the landfill isn’t the best idea, either. The rubber and butyl tubing will last in the landfill for years upon years, failing to biodegrade. The plastic will only partially break down and will turn into microplastics – a material that’s hugely harmful to wildlife and our waterways. 

Therefore, it’s important that you rely on only the best methods to get rid of your old bike tires. Keep reading to learn more!

How Do You Dispose of Rubber Inner Tubes?

Not sure how to get rid of your old bicycle tires? Here are a few ideas on how to get rid of those inner tubes you no longer want or need. 

Municipal Waste Management Options

Your first step in recycling old bike tires should be to check with municipal waste management. Of course, this is only an option if you live in a major municipality. These cities often have local recycling and waste departments that accept tubes and tires under certain circumstances. You may have to adhere to specific pick-up or drop-off requirements. Check the website for your city and get in touch before you head over. 

Check With Local Bike Shops

One of the fastest and easiest ways to get rid of your old bike tires is to ask local bike shops if they accept them. They will often accept them for a small fee. They are able to recycle them (even though you can’t do this yourself) because they are often connected to local organizations that work specifically to keep bike tires out of landfills.

These organizations use the tires to make things like playground flooring, artificial turf fields, and more. 

In some cases, car shops will also accept old bike tires. This is common if you live in a city that has a large population of cyclists. 

Upcycle the Tires

When in doubt, get creative! Upcycle your tires yourself. YOu can stretch an old tube between a few old furniture legs to make a new shelving system. You could make a new wreath or use the tube to line the seat on a chair. You can even make artwork!

Head over to Pinterest to find some inspiration – you’re sure to find a project that will make excellent use of your old tires. 

You can also cut the tubes into strips that you can use as bungee cords and tie-downs. These can keep your luggage safe on your bike (or on your car).

Another use for old bike tires? Cut the tubes into strips, then secure tarps, saplings, or awnings with the durable tubes. Your property will stay safe in the wind – and you won’t have to buy plastic tie-downs.

You know what to do with the tubes – now what to do with the wheels if you’re getting rid of the entire bike? Here are some fun ideas to try:

Find a Tire Mail-in Program

Don’t have a local bike shop that will accept your tires? That’s ok! You can find a tire mail-in program that will accept the tires regardless of where you live. Some examples include Green Guru and Alchemy Goods – both of these companies will recycle both the tires and the tubes to keep them out of the landfill.

Make a Playground

Tires, including bicycle tires, are often used to make playground equipment and flooring. However, you don’t have to be in the construction industry to give this a try!

When you were a kid, you probably enjoyed playing on an old tire swing. You can make your own by making swings out of old bicycle tires. You can even make a climbing ladder by binding several tires together. If you have kids of your own, this is a great way to build them an inexpensive and safe play structure. 

Extend the Life of Your New Tires 

Another way you can recycle and reuse your old bicycle tires is to cut the treads out of your worn tires and glue them to the inside of your new tires. You’ll attach them along the center to help extend the longevity of your new tires. 

Upgrade Your Handlebars

You can even make handlebar grips out of your old bike tires. Simply cut the old bike tube open so that it forms a long rectangular strip. Wrap it over the bare handlebars on your bike and you’ll have an upgraded grippy surface with all the texture and support you need for a comfortable ride. 

What Do You Do With Old Bike Inner Tubes?

There are a lot of ways to reuse and recycle old bike tires and tubes. We’ve shared just a few ideas here, but there are plenty more out there. So before you toss that old tire into the trash, take a minute to consider some of these recycling tips. 

Who knows? You might come up with an even better way to reuse those old bits of rubber than we did!

Leave a Comment