Where the Rubber Hits the Road

No less than 31 million scrap tires are generated and disposed of in the state of California each year. As a result, illegal dumping of tires has become a major problem in the state, which also has experienced devastating tire fires and its attendant pollution. The California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB), Sacramento, has started a waste/used tire program to counteract this growing problem.

The program contains two major components: the Permitting, Enforcement and Hauler Registration Program, and the Market Development and Recycling Program. The permitting program monitors facilities that store waste tires and those who haul them. Facilities operating without a permit or outside the conditions of their permit, and persons found illegally dumping tires, are subject to enforcement. Additionally, any person hauling or transporting 10 waste/used tires or more must be registered with the board.

The market development program develops uses for waste tires such as feedstock in power generation plants, crumb rubber used in playgrounds and running tracks, and landfill daily cover. Waste tires also are increasingly being used in engineered projects to shore up levies, in septic leach lines as a replacement for gravel, and, particularly important for California, in areas subject to landslides and erosion.

Recently, the state has increased the fee charged on new tires to fund the tire program. “At the beginning of the waste/used tire program, the state was charging 25 cents per new tire purchased in the state of California to fund the waste/used tire program,” says Cody Begley, manager of CIWMB's tire permitting program. “Unfortunately, this wasn't enough money to fund tire pile cleanups, enforcement actions, permitting of facilities, development of markets and recycling facilities.”

As of this January, however, the legislature has raised the tire free from $0.25 to $1 for every new tire, and required the development of an electronic database and tracking system to better monitor tire hauling and disposal.

The program is going international too. CIWMB now is working with Mexico to develop a program that deals with environmental issues along the border — including waste tires.