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Facts and Figures about Materials, Waste and Recycling

Rubber and Leather: Material-Specific Data

This section discusses rubber and leather in municipal solid waste (MSW). The predominant source of rubber in MSW is rubber tires from automobiles, trucks and motorcycles. Other sources of rubber and leather include clothing and footwear, and other miscellaneous durable and nondurable products. These other sources are quite diverse and include such items as gaskets on appliances, furniture and hot water bottles. EPA only includes tires from passenger cars, trucks and motorcycles, and does not include tires used in equipment, aviation or industrial applications.

This web page is a brief summary of rubber and leather material-specific data. For more comprehensive information, see the 2016 and 2017 Data Tables on the Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures Report page.
 
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Overview

This is a picture of black rubber tires. There are more than a handful of stacks of whole tires, which are at least eight tires high.EPA measures the generation, recycling, composting, combustion with energy recovery and landfilling of rubber and leather materials in MSW.

In 2017, the generation of rubber and leather in MSW was 9.1 million tons in the United States, which was 3.4 percent of total MSW generation.

The only recycling identified for the category of rubber and leather is rubber from tires, which the Agency estimated to be 1.7 million tons in 2017. This number is approximately 40.3 percent of the total amount of rubber in tires generated that year. This recycling estimate does not include retreaded tires or energy recovery from tires. Overall, the recycling rate for rubber and leather in MSW was 18.3 percent in 2017.

The total amount of rubber and leather in MSW combusted in 2017 was 2.5 million tons. This was 7.3 percent of MSW combusted with energy recovery.

Landfills received five million tons of MSW rubber and leather in 2017. This was 3.5 percent of all MSW landfilled.

Please see the EPA Methodology Document for further information on estimating the generation and management of rubber and leather.

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Summary Table and Graph

The data below are from 1960 to 2017, relating to the total number of tons of rubber and leather generated, recycled, composted, combusted with energy recovery and landfilled.

1960-2017 Data on Rubber and Leather in MSW by Weight (in thousands of U.S. tons)
Management Pathway 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2005 2010 2015 2016 2017
Generation 1,840 2,970 4,200 5,790 6,670 7,290 7,750 8,560 9,200 9,110
Recycled 330 250 130 370 820 1,050 1,440 1,550 1,760 1,670
Composted - - - - - - - - - -
Combustion with Energy Recovery - 10 70 830 1,970 2,110 1,910 2,520 2,650 2,490
Landfilled 1,510 2,710 4,000 4,590 3,880 4,130 4,400 4,490 4,790 4,950

Sources: Rubber Manufacturers Association, U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Commission, National Automobile Dealers Association and Modern Tire Dealer Magazine.

A dash in the table means that data is not available.

 

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