EA Chairman warns tyre industry that there is need to manage all waste tyres sustainably

Forthcoming European legislation that will ban the practice of disposing tyres to landfill means that industry has to find a way of disposing of waste tyres in a more sustainable manner, says the Environment Agency. In order to tackle the problem, Agency Chairman Sir John Harman, has launched a new campaign, Tyre Watch.

Seventy percent of waste tyres in the UK are already recycled, an Agency spokesman told edie. However, this means that there are still 30% of tyres that are either going to landfill, or being dumped illegally, the latter activity leaving more responsible companies – who pay for proper waste management – at a financial disadvantage, said the spokesman. Garages, tyre retailers, and vehicle dismantlers who do not comply with their duty to dispose of tyres appropriately, will now become the focus of a series of campaigns by the Environment Agency.

“The UK produces nearly half a million tonnes of waste tyres every year, and every year the Environment Agency, local authorities and emergency services spend over £2 million dealing with problems caused by the illegal disposal of tyres,” said Harman. Last year, edie reported in January that a Norfolk man had been prosecuted by the Environment Agency for illegally dumping 1.6 million tyres (see related story). However, these tyres have still not been removed, causing concern to local residents.

As well as clamping down on fly-tippers, Tyre Watch will also support robust and sustainable collection and recovery systems.

From 2003, the European Landfill Directive will ban the disposal of whole tyres to landfill, and from 2006, it will also be illegal to landfill shredded tyres. This will mean that the 84,000 tonnes of tyres that are deposited in landfills every year will soon require a new method of disposal. “If co-ordinated action is not taken, the scale of illegal dumping will increase – driven by the financial incentive to save the cost of proper disposal,” said Harman.

“There are perhaps some 24 million tyres stockpiled around the country – which, if placed side by side, would stretch from London to the southern tip of Chile,” Harman added. “They deface the countryside, and they constitute a significant fire hazard.”

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