What To Do With All These Tires?
Did You Know that...?
- Illinois citizens produce more than 14 million used tires annually. That's more than one used tire per person every year!
- These discarded tires, if improperly managed, 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.
- The Illinois EPA has programs, such as the Units of Local Government Collection Program, to help remove and properly dispose of used/waste tires in Illinois
- Used/Waste-tire material can be used as tire derived aggregate (TDA) in civil engineering applications, converted into crumb rubber for recycling or reuse in molded rubber products (running tracks, playgrounds, horse arenas) and tire derived fuel (TDF) that is blended with coal to produce electricity or utilized in cement kilns as a fuel.
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-related disease research and control.
The Illinois EPA Used Tire Program
The Illinois EPA Used Tire Program was established in 1989. Since then, the Illinois EPA has cleaned up more than 20 million used/waste tires that were improperly discarded in Illinois. Each year, the Illinois EPA conducts more than 100 used/waste tire removal actions throughout the state.
What the Illinois EPA Does
The Illinois EPA regulates and monitors handlers of used and waste tires-- generators, transporters, processors, and end users-- and enforces statutes and regulations. The Illinois EPA conducts inspections at tire retailers, other used tire generators, storage and processing facilities, as well as disposal sites. The Illinois EPA 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 Illinois EPA anticipates moving toward a more regulatory-oriented program. Goals for the future include continuing our aggressive enforcement activities against illegal used tire transporters and dumpers, at waste tire dump sites (including junk/salvage yards), ensuring that the $2.50 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.
The Illinois EPA, under recent legislation established in June 2014, is currently creating new rules for used tire management, implementing new permitting requirements for large used tire storage/processing facilities, and re-establishing a market development program to strengthen and diversify used tire markets.
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 Illinois EPA and find another retailer. Buy durable tires and take proper care of them. Notify the Illinois EPA with any information on illegal dumping, hauling, or burning of tires.
The Dangers and the Solution
With Illinois producing more than 14 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. 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.
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 EPA 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. Most used tires in Illinois are processed into TDF (tire derived fuel). The TDF is then burned with coal to generate electrical power or utilized in cement kilns as a supplemental fuel.
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 new rubber products such as floor mats for cars and other molded rubber products. For more information on national scrap tire issues and information, please visit the
Scrap Tire Management Council website.