U.S. residents scrap 255 million tires each year. Only about 40% of them are recycled. An additional 60 million old tires lie in stockpiles and others are illegally dumped, where they endanger public health, pollute our waterways, and impose a costly burden on local governments to clean up. Irresponsibly discarded tires hold stagnant water, the perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes that spread illnesses to humans. They can even catch fire, polluting the air with toxic plumes of black smoke.
More than 40% of discarded tires in the U.S. are burned as tire-derived fuel (TDF) even though they can be reused, retreaded, or recycled. While TDF does keep these tires out of the landfill, using TDF to manage scrap tires misses significant opportunities to save resources and create green jobs. Retreading a single truck tire rather than producing a new tire can save 15 gallons of oil and 40 pounds of raw materials (including rubber, steel, and carbon black).
PSI works to pass “extended producer responsibility” (EPR) laws that make tire producers pay for and manage tire collection programs. EPR programs give preference to reuse, retreading, and recycling over TDF or disposal. By providing sustainable financing, convenient tire drop-off locations, and significant public education and outreach, tire EPR programs make reuse, retreading, and recycling readily available to everyone. As a result, EPR programs prevent tire pollution, return valuable materials to the circular economy, and create recycling jobs.
While the U.S. does not yet have an EPR program for tires, such programs have been successfully operating in Canada since 2007 and in Europe since 1995. European countries where EPR has been in place for over 10 years successfully reuse, retread, and recycle 100% of tires and have eliminated stockpiles. Meanwhile, Canadian tire EPR programs recover 84% to 100% of tires and have created 70 full-time jobs in Manitoba and hundreds of jobs in Ontario.
Some U.S. tire companies have pursued voluntary tire recycling initiatives. But these voluntary industry efforts are few, and too small to address the full scale of the problem.
Thirty-seven states have mandated tire fees that consumers pay at retail. These fee programs help pay for the clean-up of illegal tire dumps. But they do not encourage tire retreading and recycling, so TDF remains prevalent because it is cheaper. Tire fee programs also do little to make tire recycling convenient for consumers.
How We’re Leading the Way
PSI delivers legislative assistance and technical expertise. We develop model tire EPR bill language, track best practices globally, and provide lobbying support to government agencies and other stakeholders seeking to pass a tire EPR law.
We bring people together. PSI has facilitated multi-stakeholder tire stewardship dialogue meetings to raise awareness and advance stewardship solutions to increase tire reuse, recycling, and retreading. More than 160 local, state, and federal government officials, recyclers, retailers, and other key stakeholders from across the U.S. and Canada participated in our most recent meeting.
We create educational resources and opportunities. Our technical webinars share best practices for tire sustainability, support rural tire collection, and discuss solutions to illegal tire dumping. Tire take-back programs face unique challenges in rural areas, where collection sites are few and far between. We help rural communities boost tire collection and raise public awareness about tire recycling.
How You Can Help
Contact PSI for assistance to develop or pass an EPR bill for tires.
Drop off old tires at a recycling location near you.
Raise awareness about tire recycling in your community. Organize a community tire clean-up event and apply to Bridgestone’s Tires4Ward Program for help to recycle the tires.