The Basics About Recycled Rubber

What Is Recycled Rubber?

Rubber has been recycled for about a century, but the market has greatly expanded in the past two decades. Most recycled rubber comes from reuse of rubber tires, which has significant benefits to the environment and the public.

Today more than recycling keeps more than 110 million tires out of landfills each year. Materials like fiber and wire are moved and the rubber is cleaned, and then the rubber is typically ground into what is called crumb rubber. The recycled rubber can then be used for a wide variety of applications, including in synthetic turf fields, hospital floors, roads and sidewalks, and even shoes.

Recycled rubber gives us innovative ways to reduce waste while solving important challenges – from facilitating softer playground surfaces, to reducing the chance of injuries for athletes, to building lower-impact hospital floors for nurses on their feet all day.

How Is It Made?

Recycled rubber is produced from replaced tires through a straightforward process. There are two main ways in which this happens:

  • AMBIENT SHREDDING uses powerful, interlocking knives to chop tires into smaller pieces.
  • CRYOGENIC PROCESS uses liquid nitrogen to freeze them at sub-zero temperature. These cold temperatures cause the tire to become very brittle. The tire is then placed in an enclosure in which powerful hammers smash the tire apart.

The non-rubber portions of the tire are also recycled. For example, the steel beads that give the tire its shape and structure are recovered by recyclers and processed into specification grade product used by steel mills for new steel.

At no point in the process does the rubber undergo any chemical change. In short, recycled rubber is rubber.

How Is It Used?

AGRICULTURE: Recycled rubber helps increase yield and efficiency for the agricultural sector. It's used in vegetation protectors and windbreaks, sheds, livestock mats, bumpers, feeders, and agrimats.

HOME & GARDEN: A variety of everyday household products, including landscaping mulch, flowerpots, garden hoses, tables and benches, and welcome mats, use recycled rubber as a material.

INFRASTRUCTURE: Recycled rubber used in roadway asphalt, sidewalks, speed bumps provides surface durability while reducing traffic noise.

MEDICAL: In healthcare facility surfaces and nursing home floors, recycled rubber provides comfort and quiet for medical professionals and patients.

PLAYGROUND SURFACES: Mats and mulch made of recycled rubber help to cushion our children's falls.

SPORTS: Across the country, recycled rubber is used in thousands of numerous synthetic turf fields, tennis courts, cycling tracks, gym floors, running tracks, mats, and even treads in athletic shoes, helping to broaden sports and fitness opportunities.