State health department marks milestone of 1 million waste tires cleaned up
Used tires are turned into fuel and landscape base, other uses
By Kelly MacGregor, Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment now has removed more than 1 million tires from illegal tire dump sites as part of a program to reduce the negative impacts waste tires can cause to public health and the environment.
Colorado generates more than 7 million waste tires each year, and the state’s private industries accept 600,000 tires from other states yearly. The department oversees how these waste tires are hauled, stored, recycled or reused. While now there are regulations to specify how waste tires should be properly managed, historically this was not the case and tires were illegally dumped in small and large piles in areas across the state.
A single abandoned waste tire can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which often carry harmful diseases such as the West Nile virus. Tires also can pose a fire risk, especially because tire fires can release harmful chemicals into the environment and are difficult to extinguish.
Colorado’s Waste Tire Program was created in 2010 to address these public health and environmental threats. The program, funded by a 55 cent waste tire fee added to new tire sales, works with local governments and the public to identify and safely remove illegal waste tire piles.
Three large cleanups in 2018 removed nearly 100,000 tires. That fall, the department supported one of the largest waste tire cleanups in the program’s history, which took place in Bennett. That cleanup alone removed nearly 150,000 illegally disposed waste tires.
"CDPHE provided critical assistance to the State Land Board for the tire removal near Bennett," said Matt Pollart, North Central District manager for the State Land Board. "Thanks to the Waste Tire Program, this parcel of state trust land will contribute to the funding of K-12 education in Colorado for years to come." Half the money the State Land Board generates through leasing trust lands goes to the Building Excellent Schools Today program.
Last year, 100 percent of waste tires generated in the state were reused or recycled, either through retreading/reuse or as tire-derived fuel, alternate daily cover at landfills, fences/windbreaks or in recreational surfaces.
To properly manage your waste tires, take them to a retail tire shop or landfill that accepts unwanted tires for a modest fee. To learn more, or to report improperly managed waste tires, visit our waste tire cleanup grants page.