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November 2003

Stockpiled Waste Tires

by Stanley T. Williams, Professional Tire Collectors & Recycling, Inc.

In response to the recent meeting in Washington, DC with the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) and the Scrap Tire Management Council (STMC), I would like to let both groups know that unlicensed tire haulers are not the reason there are illegal dumps and stockpiles of scrap tires throughout the southeast.

The problem lies in the relationship between the STMC and the environmental management offices in the region. It’s the “good ol’ boy” system at work. And the issue has been further distorted by the monopoly of preferred processors throughout the region. Receiving fees at these processors are more than a private hauler can make picking up tires in the southeast, unless he’s one of the “big boys.”

The bottom line is, scrap tires are not the problem - they’re just the symptom. The problem is that scrap tires have become a political issue among the bigger players in the US – especially in the southeast – and the large processors control the scrap tire industry with help from the very groups who are supposed to be policing things. While they are busy controlling scrap tires instead of moving them, the tires continue to pile up.

If we want a real grass roots solution to the scrap tire problem, we should establish grants for smaller, independent haulers and award contracts for cleanup of defined dumpsites. Then there must be caps on receiving fees for scrap tires so independent haulers can earn a living while solving the problem. This will make the big boys get up and go to work or get out of the way of progress.

I am an independent transporter of scrap tires and if I were illegally dumping, there’s no way I could dump 3 to 4 million scrap tires on an illegal site without the authorities finding out. In effect, most of the illegal scrap tires sites were “permitted” and the authorities watched the situation get out of hand, or had their palms greased – or both.

In closing, if we want to solve the scrap tire problem throughout the southeast, contract and grant the work to the small transport business so the job will be done legally and properly. Aside from good transportation, the only equipment you need to move scrap tires is waders, gloves and arm guards. And the most cost-effective means to clean up scrap tires is manual labor. Any other way is a waste of taxpayer’s money and government funds. There is no quick fix. It’s going to take hard work by honest people who truly want the problem solved.

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