Texas Recycled More Tires than it Generated
Louisiana Recycled Almost 9 Million Tires in 2002

Waste tire dumps have been a serious problem throughout the nation for many years. Massive fires that burned for days, some for months, have polluted air and water and cost millions of dollars to control.

Fighting a 26-acre fire that burned for 22 days in Midlothian near Dallas in 1995 cost $1.2 million. From 1996 through 2000, EPA-Dallas spent some $3.5 million to control nine large tire fires, seven of them in Texas. These fires were so big and so bad only the federal government had the resources to deal with them.

In 2001 and 2002, there were no significant tire fires in the south central states.

Texas— Texas generates some 24 million waste tires a year. By creating new end-use markets for scrap tires, Texas increased its tire recycling rate from about 66 percent in 1998 to over 100 percent in 2002. Instead of growing, waste tire piles are actually being reduced.

Texas enacted criminal penalties for illegal dumping and honed its statewide program to oversee the collection, processing and recycling or disposal of scrap tires. The state also provided funds to clean up illegal or abandoned tire dumps.

Texas tire fire prevention efforts have paid off. At the massive 150-acre abandoned recycling site near Atlanta in East Texas, the state has posted guards to monitor around the clock, watching for signs of fire in piles of chips from more than 30 million tires. Thermal imaging equipment is used to measure the heat building in the piles. The state is working with the local community to determine how best to deal with possibly the nation's largest tire dump.

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This is the photo used in the 'Illegal Dumping Prevention Guidebook' published by the EPA.
Illegal Tire Pile

Louisiana— Louisiana's tire program begins with a $2.00 fee paid by consumers on new tire purchases. From the fees, the state's tire fund pays processors for waste tires they pick up from retailers, process and market. A key feature of Louisiana's program is that haulers do not get paid until they deliver scrap tires to a processor, so there's no incentive for haulers to illegally dump tires.

To ensure compliance, Louisiana tracks tires from retail sale to processing and marketing for reuse. In the past five years the state has conducted more than 3,000 inspections and taken almost 400 enforcement actions. In one fraud conviction, a tire processor had to pay a $650,000 fine.

The state tire fund also pays processors for cleaning up illegal tire dumps. In 2002 Louisiana had cleaned up all 857 of its identified illegal tire stockpiles, almost nine million tires.

With its tire dumps gone and almost 100 percent of its waste tires recycled in 2002, Louisiana has one of the most successful tire programs in the nation.

Cleanup Partnerships— Agencies work together to help communities deal with tire dumps.

As the search continues for new reuse markets for scrap tires, states, tribes and communities will continue to work to prevent new illegal dumps. Texas will continue cleanups and focus attention on the U.S.-Mexico border, where tire fires are still a risk.

In 1990, 11 percent of waste tires in the U.S. were recycled. The rest were dumped in landfills or someplace else, often illegally, where rats and mosquitoes could breed or fires could pollute the air. In 2001, some 80 percent were recycled.

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