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Househould Hazardous Waste
Automotive Products - Tires

 

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Tires are used on cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other equipment such as tractors and ATVs. Tires are made of rubber and a rigid belt that runs through the tire providing structural support. The surface of the tire, in contact with the road, has a pattern of grooves and raised areas called treads. With time and usage, tire treads will wear down making the surface of the tire bald. Once tires loose their tread they should be replaced for safety reasons.

It is this replacement and ultimate disposal that generates the estimated 600,000 tires disposed of in Vermont annually (one per capita per year based on the Rubber Manufacturers of America estimates). The majority of these are from passenger cars. These tires if not properly managed represent a large and continually growing solid waste problem.

Hazards:

Tires seem harmless, but when disposed of improperly they can have major impacts on public health and safety. If disposed of in a traditional landfill, tires can collect pockets of air or methane gas, which will cause them to slowly float to the top of the landfill and eventually push through the landfill cap. The landfill cap is a layer of earthen material designed to seal off the landfill waste from the environment. If the cap is broken, water can penetrate into the waste and allow toxic chemicals into surface and ground water. To prevent this from happening, 33 states have passed laws prohibiting the disposal of tires in landfills; Vermont is one of these states.

 

Tires are banned from Vermont landfills.

 

In addition to landfill problems, tires left in piles can collect water and will create prime habitat for mosquitoes and rodents to breed. These are prime vectors for the spreading of disease. For example, mosquitoes are responsible for the spread of the West Nile Virus and Malaria, and rodents can carry diseases such as the hanta virus.

These same tire piles pose a serious fire hazard. If a tire pile catches fire, the air pockets in the tires can create a highly oxygenated fire, which is extremely hard to extinguish. Water sprayed on burning tires cools them down, producing an oily run-off, which can contaminate nearby surface and groundwater. The burning of tires also produces several toxic compounds such as dioxins, which are a potential carcinogen.

Disposal:

Tires don’t have to be a burden or an environmental problem. They can be recycled into products such as new tires, roadways, playground bedding, floor mats, and various other products. Tires can also be burned as fuel, but only by special facilities with adaptations to decrease harmful air pollutants. Tires can be properly managed in Vermont in several different ways. These include:

 

  • When purchasing new tires, the old ones can be given to the tire dealer for disposal (usually for a small fee)
  • Tires that are not disposed of at tire dealers can be brought to your local solid waste district, alliance or municipality’s collection center

Contact your local solid waste management entity for disposal locations: Solid Waste Management Districts contact list

 

What can I do to reduce Tire Waste?

Homeowners can do a several things to reduce the amount of waste tires generated. These include:

• Purchasing retreaded or recapped tires.
• Maintaining proper tire balance and inflation.
• Keeping your vehicles shocks and suspension system properly maintained.
• Rotating your tires every 6000 to 8000 miles.
• Checking your tires for uneven wear.
• Avoiding sudden starts and stops. Instead stop and accelerate gradually.

 

Take old tires to a Tire Recycler working in Vermont.

 

Report to the Vermont Legislature on Problem Scrap Tire Piles PDF (2013)

 

 

 

VT DEC Waste Management & Prevention Division 1 National Life Drive - Davis 1  Montpelier, VT  05620-3704  Tele: 802-828-1138   Fax: 802-828-1011

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