Tire Initiative To Eliminate Dumping (TIRED) – Don’t Dump on Us!
By Dr. Yomi Noibi
Have you ever seen a sea of tires? I have. Americans discard approximately 273 million tires each year. 9,000,000 scrap tires are thrown away in Georgia alone. Tires illegally dumped onto the ground or into a river pose a health hazard. Many disease-carrying rodents live in tire piles, as tires provide warm places for rodents and pests. Stagnant water retained in tires can also serve as a breeding site for mosquitoes that can carry the West Nile Virus. Additionally, when tires catch on fire, they are difficult to put out and burn for a long time. Burning tires emit a hazardous chemical into the air and can contaminate the soil with an oily residue.
In our community, illegal tire dumping has been a serious problem for a long time. Companies have allegedly collected fees to dispose of the tires, but then illegally abandoned them throughout neighborhoods. The work of Environmental Community Action Inc. (ECO-Action) revealed that illegal dumping of tires, trash, and debris is a major environmental concern in the vulnerable communities of Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU)-V neighborhoods. Residents of these neighborhoods felt that addressing illegal tire dumping would also help to build the momentum and capacity to address other identified environmental hazards such as air pollution and brownfield areas.
In moving forward, residents of NPU-V, several neighborhood organizations, ECO-Action, and Georgia State University created the Tire Initiative to Eliminate Dumping (TIRED). Subsequently, ECO-Action and the Center of Excellence for Health Disparities Research at Georgia State University (GSU) contacted Liberty Tire Recycling to donate their services for this initiative. ECO-Action also hosted community meetings to educate residents about illegal dumping and to develop a strategy to gather and recycle illegal dumped tires in NPU-V and nearby NPU-L.
Community residents, GSU Department of Geosciences faculty, and GSU students then went out to map the locations of illegally dumped tires. Together they mapped 1,600 tires and collected over 500 of these tires for recycling on March 3rd. Shortly after, these groups also partnered with probationers and collected nearly 3,000 tires. In total, Liberty Tire Recycling recovered and recycled 3,527 tires through this community-led effort.
Organizing to remove or recycle waste can make a difference in communities that are struggling with other environmental justice issues. Through our efforts, ordinary citizens partnered with local universities and community organizations to learn more about the problem of illegal tire dumping in their neighborhoods. The relationships that formed during the TIRED initiative are leading to new collaborations to address environmental justice issues in our communities.
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