The Trouble with Tires: Environmental Impact of Tire Production

Tires may be one of the simplest products in existence, consisting of just four main components (plastic, steel wire, rubber and fabric). But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any environmental impact of tire production– because they do; much impact, actually.

These seemingly innocuous objects are responsible for more than 10 million tons of CO2 per year to be released into the atmosphere, just from mining their raw materials alone! We’re going to explore why tires have such a big environmental footprint, how it’s grown over time and what you can do about it.

Read on to know more in detail to have an overall better understanding!

What Are The Problems With Producing Tires?

First, the environmental impact of tire production is significant. It takes a lot of energy and water to produce tires, and the process emits harmful pollutants into the air. Second, tires are made of synthetic rubber, which is derived from petroleum. This means that the production of tires is directly linked to oil extraction and refining, which have their own set of environmental impacts.

How do tires affect the environment?

Dangers To Human Health

The environmental impact of tire production is largely hidden from consumers. But the truth is, tire manufacturing is a dirty business. The process of vulcanization, which strengthens rubber and gives it its elasticity, releases toxins like sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide into the air. These emissions can cause respiratory problems, heart disease and cancer.

The health effects of tires aren’t limited to workers, either. Since vulcanization is typically carried out by large industrial plants in or near urban areas, emissions can threaten populations that live nearby. That includes both factory employees and people who work in businesses downwind from tire plants.

(Ground level ozone, another pollutant released during vulcanization, also endangers crops and farm animals.) The medical community is just beginning to understand the environmental impact of tire production, but preliminary evidence suggests they may play a role in everything from respiratory diseases to heart disease to certain types of cancer.

Environmental Impacts

Talking about the negative environmental impacts, first, the rubber tree plantations that provide the raw material for tires are often located in tropical rainforests, which are being cleared at an alarming rate. Second, the process of vulcanizing rubber – i.e., treating it with sulphur to make it stronger and more durable – produces harmful emissions.

Third, tire manufacturing is energy-intensive and thus contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Fourth, most sustainable tires contain synthetic chemicals that can leach into the environment. Fifth, when tires are incinerated, they release harmful pollutants into the air.


So how can we help fight back against the environmental impact of tire production? The simplest option is to buy only as many tires as you need. When your car or truck needs new tires, consider replacing only those that are worn out and maintaining others until they’re absolutely necessary. You can also reduce your vehicle’s tire footprint by buying lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Contact Us:

US Tire Manufacturers Association

Address: 1400 K St NW, Washington, DC 20005, United States
Phone: 202-682-4800

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