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Last updated: November 15, 2001
Tires and Product
Approximately 6 million scrap tires are generated annually in Washington State alone.
The number of scrap tires continues to increase each year as the number of vehicles on the
road and miles driven increases.
What Is The Problem?
It takes around 22 gallons of crude oil, along with steel and natural rubber to make a new
tire. When tires are landfilled or stockpiled, the value of these resources is lost. Most
scrap tires in Washington end up in a landfill. Washington is one of the few states with
no restrictions on landfilling tires.
Tire piles continue to be a problem in some areas of Washington State. Tire piles are a
breeding ground for rats and mosquitoes and are prone to fires. Tire pile fires are
extremely difficult to extinguish and release many pollutants into the air, water and
soils that are a threat to human health. Cleanups have cost taxpayers many millions of
Recent Washington Activity
Between 1990 and 1995 a tire tax of $1 per tire was collected for each new tire sold. The
funds were used by the Department of Ecology to clean up some of the larger tire piles in
Washington. Most tire dealers continue to collect a $1-$2/tire fee to offset their
The Product Stewardship Solution
By adopting the principles of product stewardship to reduce the lifecycle environmental
impacts of their products, companies can seize a competitive advantage and realize
measurable benefits. Tire companies are recognizing the power of product stewardhip
practices and are taking the following actions:
Recycled Content - Ford Motor company has been working with two of its suppliers,
Michelin and Continental General, to increase the use of recycled content in new vehicle
tires. Continental General is using a grant from the state of North Carolina to research
increasing the recycled content of its tires to 25%. New tire production represents a
significant end market for crumb rubber from scrap tires.
Design for Durability - Advances in design have increased the average life
expectancy from 20,000 to 60,000 miles per tire.
Reuse - The manufacture of a retread tire requires only one third the petroleum
products of a new tire, yet lasts just as long. Truck tires can be retreaded several
Legislation - Many states have legislation aimed at increasing end markets for
products made from scrap tires.
- 37 states ban or restrict the disposal of tires in landfills
- 32 states collect a disposal fee, many of which use the funds to support research and
- California, Arizona and Florida have taken the lead in promoting the use of rubber
modified asphalt in state highway projects. Huge quantities of scrap tires are put to
beneficial use in this way.
Northwest Product Stewardship Council Role
The Northwest Product Stewardship Council is supporting two projects to develop a
sustainable system for managing scrap tires in the region. Both projects involve multiple
players in the tire life cycle - tire manufactures, tire dealers, scrap tire processors,
end users of scrap tire products, government and consumers. One project will focus on
recycling scrap tires into end products other than tires. The other will focus on
designing tires with increased recycled content and reduced environmental impacts. The
goal of both projects is to develop solutions to the scrap tire problem that are agreeable
to all players and are both environmentally responsible and economically viable.