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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Green Manufacturing > Sourcing for Manufacturing > Recycled Materials for Green Manufacturing Best Practices

How Retread Tires are Green(er) and Save

Retread tires reuse waste materials with minimal reprocessing -- the highest form of recycling. They save resources and money.

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By Harvey Brodsky
Managing Director
Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau

(The following is based on recent talks given at various trucking conferences for both the private and public sectors)

I’m the Managing Director of the Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau. I first joined the retread industry back in the early seventies and have been driving on retreaded tires on my personal car for more than 30 years. It’s important to know that I really do walk the talk when I speak or write about retreads. I believe in retreading with a passion and love what I do because I know how important it is to spread the word about the environmental and economic benefits retreads offer to motorists worldwide.

Let’s look at how “green” a retreaded truck tire really is.

The average size new truck tire (an 11R22.5 for example) weighs approximately 117 Pounds (53.1 Kilograms). The new tire contains natural and synthetic rubber, carbon black, iron (as steel cord), zinc stearate, antioxidants and antiozonants, sulfur and a small amount of other ingredients. That’s 117 pounds or 53.1 kilograms of STUFF.

Please keep in mind that every major new truck tire manufacturer designs its tires for multiple lives. It’s silly and wasteful to discard the tire after the first tread life is over, since the tire can easily deliver one or more lives after being retreaded.

When we retread that tire, we only add approximately 27 pounds (12.2 kilograms) of STUFF for a savings of approximately 90 pounds or nearly 41 kilograms! That’s a lot of STUFF being saved, thanks to retreading.

In addition, when the tire is retreaded the remaining worn tread that is buffed off the tire is recycled into rubber mats and other rubber products. Nothing is wasted.

Sounds good, but can all tires be retreaded?

Not at all. Before a tire is retreaded it is subjected to a very thorough inspection process, which may include Shearography, Differometry, X-Ray, and other very sophisticated inspection devices, to be certain that the tire is suitable for its next life. Reputable retreaders will never retread a tire that doesn’t pass their very stringent inspections.

Because of the advances in non-destructive testing methods and improved rubber compounds thanks to better rubber chemistry, tires that are retreaded by top quality retreaders actually enjoy a LOWER failure rate due to manufacturing defects than comparable new tires.

Hard to believe? Let us prove it to you by arranging a retread plant tour in your area and you can see the retreader’s adjustment records for yourself. By the way, any retreader who won’t share his adjustment records with you is a good person to NOT do business with!

OK, so you decide to either have your own tires retreaded or to buy top quality retreads from a reputable dealer. How many miles can you expect to get from the retreads you buy and will you get the same fuel efficient tread and rubber compounds as with new tires?

I want to digress for a moment to mention that everything I’m saying today is predicated upon you ONLY dealing with a top quality, reputable retreader. I never insult anyone’s intelligence by stating that all retreaders are top quality business people. It wouldn’t be true if I did.

Our industry has its share of shoddy dealers who turn out less than the best retreads. This is why it is vitally important for you to spend the time necessary to learn whom you are dealing with. Tour the retreader’s plant. Is it clean and orderly with only today’s dirt on the floor? Are the employees wearing the appropriate safety equipment? Do they have a professional and caring attitude at their workstations? How about the employee’s bathrooms? Have a look. You can learn a lot about how the company treats its employees by how clean the bathrooms and break areas are kept.

Is this stuff really important? You bet it is! It you are going to spend your hard earned money and trust your safety to the retreads on your vehicle you have a right to know a whole lot about how your retreads are produced. And you know what? You will be glad you did.

Expected miles and fuel economy retreads offer

Top quality retreads are able to offer approximately the same – and sometimes even better – mileage than comparable new tires. Thanks to application specific retreads offered by our industry today you will have a very wide choice of the type of tread design (fuel efficient tread designs and many others) best for your particular use on your fleet, whether it’s a fleet of one or ten thousand.

Your retreader/tire dealer can be and should be your best friend when it comes to your tire selection for both new tires and retreads. It is a false economy to just buy the cheapest tire or retread without making a thorough investigation of all of the above. Cheap tires –whether new or retreads – can be a very expensive mistake! It is much smarter to look at life cycle costing than to focus on the up-front cost. There is an old saying: You don’t always get what you pay for, but you always pay for what you get.

Regarding the environment, keep in mind that thanks to the retread industry worldwide, nearly a half a billion gallons of oil is saved every year (There is a lot of synthetic rubber in a tire and that rubber is petroleum based and comes from an oil well!). This is in addition to the rest of the STUFF what is saved, including the fact that it requires a lot less energy to retread a tire than to produce a new one.

Retreads may look round and black but they are very green

Folks, we were a green industry before the word became fashionable. A retreaded tire has one of the highest post-consumer contents of ANY recycled product, and the nice thing is you don’t have to mind spending a little less! How refreshing to be able to do well and good at the same time.

The amount of money you can save with retreads

A retreaded tire will always be less expensive than a comparable new tire, regardless of the size of the tire. In some parts of the world and with some size tires the savings can be as much as 70% when compared to the cost of a new replacement tire. The amount will of course vary depending on where you live and the size of your tires, but the savings will always be there.

These are serious savings. If you haven’t used retreads before, or if you had a bad experience with them years ago, it’s time for another look. We are a different industry than we were in the old days.

Our association has a job to do and that’s to make available the tools you need to learn as much as possible before you make a decision to use retreads. We can furnish you with a huge amount of free and non-commercial information, as well as with brochures and other materials from our members, and we will also include a CD & DVD loaded with great information, including a Retread Tire Buyers Guide listing our members worldwide. These are the good folks and ones you should deal with if you want to be assured of full value and a great retread.

To order our materials please call toll free from anywhere in North America to 888-473-8732 or by email to

No matter what the color “green” is in your part of the world, it’s your money. You work hard for it and you deserve the best tires for your investment. Retreads can deliver.

FAX 831-372-9210
TOLL FREE 888-473-8732

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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