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Used Tires

Used Tire Facts and Information - What To Do With All These Tires?

field of tires

Did You Know that...?

  • Illinois citizens produce more than 12 million used tires annually. That's one used tire per person every year!
  • These discarded tires serve as habitats for disease-carrying vectors, particularly mosquitoes.
  • The improper and illegal transportation and disposal of tires in Illinois is responsible for the proliferation of a harmful species of mosquito, the Asian Tiger Mosquito.
  • Whole tires have been banned from landfills, so alternative methods of disposal are necessary.
  • Tire fires can contaminate the air, land, and water.

But...

  • The Illinois EPA has programs, such as the Consensual Tire Removal program and the Units of Local Government Collection Program, to help clean-up used/waste tires in Illinois
  •  Used/Waste-tire material can be used in such ways as road base, running tracks, playgrounds, horse arenas, and tire derived fuel (TDF) that is blended with coal to produce electricity.

The Used Tire Management Act

The Used Tire Management Act was adopted by the legislature in 1992 and it created the Used Tire Management Fund. This fund is supported by a $2.50 per tire user fee charged to customers on the price of new and used tires sold at retail in Illinois. It gives state governmental agencies the financial resources necessary for tire-pile cleanups, inspection and enforcement activities, market development for tire-based products, and mosquito research and control.

The IEPA USED Tire Program

The IEPA Used Tire Program was established in 1989. Since then, the Illinois EPA has cleaned up over 10 million used/waste tires that were improperly discarded in Illinois. Each year, the Illinois EPA conducts over 100 used/waste tire cleanups throughout the state. An outline of The Used Tire Program's activities can be found in the report to the governor.  

What the IEPA Does

Regulates and monitors handlers of used and waste tires-- generators, transporters, processors, and end users-- and enforces statutes and regulations. Conducts inspections at used tire generators, storage and processing facilities, as well as disposal sites. Performs a one time Consensual Removal of up to 1000 used/waste tires at no cost to the owner of the property. If more than 1000 tires are present, the IEPA will remove the last 1000 tires after the property owner removes those tires in excess of 1000. Conducts waste tire removal actions for units of local government.  These collections, which are designed to assist units of local government with disposing of  waste tires dumped on public or abandoned properties, are conducted upon request with the agency providing all the necessary funding for the collection and transportation of the used/waste tires to a registered commercial processing facility.

The Future--Where We're Headed

As the number of waste tire dumps decreases in Illinois, The IEPA anticipates moving toward a more regulatory-oriented program. Goals for the future include continuing our aggressive enforcement activities at waste tire dump sites (including junk/salvage yards), ensuring that the $1.00 per tire fee is collected from retail customers and is submitted by tire retailers to the state, and ensuring used tire processors are operating in compliance with applicable requirements.

What You Can Do

Leave your used tires with your tire retailer when you buy new tires. Retailers are required by law to accept a quantity of used tires equal to the number of new tires purchased. If a tire retailer refuses to accept your used tires, report them to the IEPA and find another retailer. Buy durable tires and take proper care of them. Notify the IEPA with any information on illegal dumping, hauling, or burning of tires.

The Dangers and the Solution

With Illinois producing more than 12 million used tires a year, the Illinois EPA's Used Tire Program has the difficult task of making sure that all of these tires are disposed of properly. This is a vital task if we are to ensure the public's health and the integrity of the environment. When used tires are disposed of improperly they often end up in unmanaged and illegal tire dumps. The tires in these dumps accumulate stagnant water that serves as an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Asiant Tiger Mosquito These mosquitoes can potentially carry harmful diseases. One of the most feared mosquitoes is the Asian Tiger Mosquito.  This mosquito was introduced to the United States from Asia through shipments of waste tires into Houston, Texas in 1985. Since then, the mosquito has been transported throughout the United States via waste tire shipments. The Asian Tiger Mosquito has been found as far north as Chicago. An infestation of the Asian Tiger Mosquito is a very serious issue because of its potential to transmit several diseases including encephalitis.

  burning tires Another potentially dangerous and environmentally hazardous aspect of tire dumps is the risk of fire. Tire fires burn very hot and are extremely difficult to extinguish. Another problem with tire fires is that, in the extreme heat of the fire, tires can melt into an oily substance. When the fire is doused with water this oily substance can form a harmful run-off that can contaminate nearby surface water.  While many dumps are in rural areas cause a direct threat to only a few people, there are still numerous smaller dumps in urban areas that pose a risk to a  relatively large number of people, particularly children, the elderly, and those individuals with a chronic respiratory condition.

In an effort to minimize and eventually eliminate these dangers, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) in conjunction with the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA), and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) embarked upon a mission to regulate current sites, enforce the rules as set forth by the Environmental Protection Act, and to ensure that Illinois' used tires are managed in an environmentally sound manner by promoting tire derived products and other uses for used/waste tires. To this end the program has created the infrastructure necessary to dispose of all of Illinois' waste tires. The IEPA also sponsors periodic tire collections throughout Illinois. These collections are part of the consensual removal agreement which allows an individual to bring in up to 1,000 tires for a one-time free pickup. The IEPA pays for the transport of the tires to a shredding facility where the tires will then be used for any number of purposes. Most likely the tires will be processed into TDF (tire derived fuel). The TDF will then be burned with coal to generate electrical power.

There are many other uses for shredded tires such as crumb rubber.  This material can be used in many applications such as in the construction of all-weather running tracks, as the ground cover for playgrounds, and in the production of rubberized asphalt (RMA). Crumb rubber is also used to create rubber products such as floor mats for cars.  For more information on national scrap tire issues and information, please visit the Scrap Tire Management Council website.

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