South Carolinians generate an estimated 4.6 million waste tires every year or roughly 12,600 per day. If improperly managed, waste tires pose a potential risk to human health and the environment. If recycled, waste tires can be made into many products or used as an alternative fuel source.
The S.C. Solid Waste Policy and Management Act of 1991 bans the disposal of whole waste tires in landfills and places a $2 fee on each new tire purchased. This fee is used to properly manage and recycle waste tires, reduce illegal dumping and encourage new uses for old tires.
Most waste tires generated in South Carolina are chipped and burned by permitted facilities in place of other fuels (e.g., coal). Tires also are used frequently as a substitute for gravel or other aggregates in septic tank drain fields or other drainage applications. In addition, tires can be recycled into rubberized playground surfaces, landscaping mulch, truck bed mats, commercial flooring, rubberized asphalt and other products.
Unfortunately, many waste tires do not take a direct route to a recycler. The state continues to find illegal dump sites and works to identify responsible parties to remove and manage these tires.
Stockpiles of illegally dumped or stored tires collect rainwater and provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes that transmit illnesses. These piles also are a fire hazard. Tire fires – which are extremely difficult to extinguish – release toxic air pollutants and generate oil that can contaminate the ground and surface water.