Over 242 million passenger and truck tires are discarded annually in the United States. Additionally, approximately 32 million tires are retreaded and an estimated 10 million are reused each year. It is estimated that 7 percent of the discarded tires are currently being recycled into new products, 11 percent are converted to energy, and nearly 78 percent are being land-filled, stockpiled, or illegally dumped, with the remainder being exported.
Land-filling is a poor management option for scrap tires. Whole tires take up large amounts of valuable space and may float or rise in a landfill, coming to the surface and puncturing the landfill cover. Many landfills ban whole tires or require shredding prior to disposal.
Stockpiled scrap tires, estimated at two to three billion tires nationally, pose potentially serious health and safety problems. Whole tires serve as breeding grounds for disease carrying mosquitoes and rodents. Uncontrolled tire piles are fire hazards. Once ignited, tire piles can burn out of control for months, producing acrid black smoke and a hazardous oily residue.
Widespread illegal dumping poses the same problems associated with stockpiling. Millions of abandoned scrap tires are found in streams and rivers, ravines and roadsides throughout the United States.
In Indiana Public Law 19-1990 established a Waste Tire Management Fund and a Waste Tire Task Force, consisting of representatives from government and industry, whose aim is to develop markets and storage guidelines for waste tires. The program is administered by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. In 1991, additional legislation (HR 1047 and PL 236-1991) was added to further the goals of scrap tire management and required the Indiana Department of Transportation, in cooperation with a state university, to study and report on the feasibility of using waste tires (as well as other materials) in road construction projects.
Marshall County residents may bring their tires to the Recycle Depot for recycling. A nominal fee will apply. Contact the Solid Waste District/Recycle Depot at (574) 935-8618 for more information.