Across the state of Ohio lie hundreds of sites filled with improperly disposed rubber tires.
Though tires do not work forever, the material they are made up of does last an exceptionally long time, if not forever–which is the current understanding.
Improperly disposed of tires often means a sizable amount of rubber waste is sitting at a site with no hope of decomposing, which disrupts the ecosystem, becomes a fire risk, and
Once commonly understood as a useless material, these used rubber tires have piled up on numerous sites across Ohio, but what many don’t realize is these are actually gold mines to some.
With evolving methods for reusing and recycling wasted tires emerging regularly, this material that was once merely a waste to be discarded holds value.
This value isn’t what motivates the Ohio EPA, however, which has developed a program specifically designed to help remove this harmful material from the ground across the state.
Established with the goal of cleaning up improperly disposed of tires, the Ohio EPA Scrap Tire Remediation Program has cleaned up over 770,000 pounds of rubber from sites like these described since July 21st, 2022.
Waste360 was recently able to contact the Ohio EPA to hear more about the program. Dina Pierce, Ohio EPA’s Media coordinator for the Northwest & Southwest Districts was able to explain more details about the program and all of its successes.
In this Q&A Pierce goes into detail about how the funding works, information on the state of tire scraps across Ohio, and overall how the program functions.
Waste360 Staff: What are the two different tracks of the Ohio EPA Scrap Tire Remediation Program?
Pierce: This program encompasses two tracks; the first of which is a no-cost program, known as the No-Fault Scrap Tire Cleanup Program, for qualified applicants to assist victims of scrap tire dumping; and the second is an enforcement program for individuals who either caused or in some way benefited from the tires being disposed of illegally. The enforcement program allows the state to recover costs incurred for a scrap tire cleanup through a lien placed on the property.
Waste360 Staff: Can you tell me what motivated the Ohio EPA to launch this program?
Pierce: Based on studies conducted on behalf of Ohio EPA in the late 1980s, it was found that an estimated 47 percent of all scrap tires generated in the state were unaccounted for and presumably open dumped or otherwise improperly disposed of.
This was a huge problem considering Ohio generates, on average, 11 million scrap tires per year.
Ohio’s scrap tire law was created in 1993. The law gave Ohio EPA the ability to regulate scrap tires and established a funding source for the program to address the state’s worst tire dumps.
Ohio now has a comprehensive regulatory framework for managing scrap tires that covers all aspects of scrap tire management including transportation, collection, storage, recovery, disposal, beneficial use, remediation, and market development.
Waste360 Staff: Where does the Ohio EPA collect the funding to keep the program afloat?
Pierce: Since its inception, Ohio’s Scrap Tire Remediation Program has been funded by the Scrap Tire Management Fund, which receives revenue from a fee assessed on all new tires sold wholesale in the state.
Currently, the fee is $1 per tire.
Of that dollar, Ohio EPA receives 50 cents and pays for expenses associated with maintaining the scrap tire regulatory program, conducting scrap tire removals, and funding market development grants.
More recently, funding also supports mosquito control and education/outreach grants.
The remainder of the fee is transferred to the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Soil and Water Conversation Program.
Waste360 Staff: What partners are involved with this current system? (i.e., recycling facilities, onsite cleaners, etc.)
Pierce: For the scrap tire remediation program specifically, Ohio EPA contracts with two companies - Liberty Tire Services of Ohio, LLC, and Rumpke of Ohio, Inc.
Ohio EPA also works on these programs with local governments, such as solid waste management districts and local health departments.
Businesses also support Ohio’s scrap tire management infrastructure, ensuring the proper management of scrap tires:
- Ninety-five scrap tire transporters are required to be used anytime more than 10 scrap tires are transported.
- Ten scrap tire recovery facilities that produce usable materials from scrap tires.
- Eight scrap tire collection facilities that provide convenient, local drop-off locations for scrap tires to individuals and small businesses.
- Two facilities, which include a much larger site where tires are stored until they reach their final destination, and a scrap tire monofil, which is a landfill that only accepts scrap tires.
Waste360 Staff: Can you explain the current rate of tire dumping in the state?
Pierce: Even if 1 percent of the over 11 million scrap tires that are generated in Ohio annually is improperly managed, that could produce more than 110,000 newly dumped scrap tires each year. The actual number likely is higher considering the number of scrap tires we clean up annually.
Waste360 Staff: Can you tell me more about the current cleanup rates?
Pierce: For the 2023 fiscal year, which began July 1, 2022, Ohio EPA already has remediated 64 properties containing 38,583 passenger tire equivalents, at a cost of more than $142,000.
“Passenger tire equivalents” is approximately 20 pounds. This is part of the formula used to calculate the number of tires at a site because tires come in various sizes.
Since the beginning of the scrap tire remediation program, Ohio EPA has remediated more than 41 million scrap tires from locations across the state at a cost of more than $67 million dollars.
These included sites under enforcement where the cost of the removal was assessed as a lien against the property. It also includes sites where private property owners and local governments were confirmed victims of scrap tire dumping and the clean-ups were conducted at no cost to the local governments or private property owners.
Waste360 Staff: Are there any individuals who have had a large impact on the continued success of these efforts? Can you tell me about them and their role in the project?
Pierce: There is a team in Ohio EPA’s Division of Materials and Waste Management who make the program successful. The program benefits local communities and is widely used by local solid waste management districts, health departments, and municipalities. The program would not be as successful without these local partnerships.