Getting Traction

New legislation addresses tire disposal in Vermont

Vermont Legislators are working on a bill proposal that would address a perceived problem with illegal tire dumping by charging customers an added disposal fee when they buy their tires. State Reps. Jon Anderson and Jim McCullough, are looking to assess a $1-per-tire charge that would go to a discrete fund and would be administered by the state's natural resources agency. The bill is expected to be introduced in January 2008.

Anderson says the money from the discrete fund would be used to fund tire amnesty days where consumers could drop off their tires free of charge. It also will fund statewide “green-up” days and other special collections activities. The annual green-up day, usually held in May, involves local volunteers scouring roadside ditches and other areas where tires are regularly dumped. In 2006, more than 4,300 tires were recovered, despite the fact that only two-thirds of the participating towns reported their results. One of the most recent special collection activities was the annual Winooski River cleanup in Montpelier, Vt., which took place in September. More than 40 volunteers climbed into rowboats and fished out tires from the bottom of the Winooski, and the two-day cleanup recovered 102 tires.

Local tire retailers and lobbyists have met the proposal with resistance. Dick Cole, executive director of the New England Tire Service Association (NETSA) says a disposal fee would put businesses at a sizeable disadvantage to competitors in nearby states. He says the majority of the state's dumping problem is from trash, not tires.

Anderson says he has addressed concerns associated with the proposal, including over-collecting and the discrete fund being used for general administrative purposes rather than exclusively for tire recovery efforts. Cole says that other states, such as Maine and Rhode Island have instituted similar tire fees and still collect them even after the tire problems have been solved.

Anderson says a sunset clause would allow the state to reconsider the program if it had met its purpose. However, Cole says he distrusts the effectiveness and binding power of a sunset clause. “It only stands for the period of time the bill was voted on,” he says. “ It could be changed at any time.”