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Tire Initiative To Eliminate Dumping (TIRED) – Don’t Dump on Us!

2012 July 13

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.

ECO Action in the local news

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.

About the author: Dr. Yomi is the Executive Director of Environmental Community Action (ECO-Action), helping Georgia communities organize to reduce and prevent environmental health threats. Since the award of EPA CARE level I grant to ECO-Action in 2008, Dr. Yomi has been very active in the CARE family. For more information about this effort contact Dr. Yomi at asnoibi@gmail.com.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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10 Responses leave one →
  1. Doug permalink
    July 14, 2012

    I had no idea that communities were facing such a problem. Thank you for sharing this story.

  2. Kathy permalink
    July 14, 2012

    This was a great blog!

  3. Leslie permalink
    July 16, 2012

    A task force was just approved by Hawaii governor to address illegal dumping of tires on Oahu. The purpose if the task force will be to study ways to prevent or control the problem of abandoned tires in isolated/rural areas. Task force participants will include state govt, local govt, police, legislators, neighborhood boards, auto/tire recycling industry, auto industry, and nonprofit entities.

    In particular, the Waianae coast community was awarded an EPA CARE 2 grant to address illegal dumping issues, to include illegal dumping of tires. Our community looks forward to learning from others, via this blog, on how to address this ugly issues.

  4. Roy Lee permalink
    July 18, 2012

    Great information – How does EPA support these types of initiatives?

  5. Garrett A. Smith permalink
    July 18, 2012

    What exactly happened to the 3,527 tires that were collected? What was the cost of collection? What was the cost of processing the tires? Did anyone from ECO-Action observe the final disposition of the material?

    I have been visiting tire piles large and small for nearly 40 years, and while I rejoice when tires are removed from where people live (rats, encephalitis, west Nile, etc.), I have seen the same tires reappear in a new pile, unchanged, because they are expensive to collect, haul, and process.

  6. July 18, 2012

    City’s and Small community’s, that have Tyre’s Dumped and Discarded in Place’s that have been done for many year’s, and thought to be useful in the Dumping IE: on Piling’s around Harbor’s, for working Boat’s to use as Fender’s. Holding water, growing the Mosquito’s, and Rat’s, and wonder why some people wonder WHY the Area’s have so many Rat’s and Bug’s around and CAN’T get rid of them. If there are recyclers/shredders, that can use and re-sale the Rubber, it would be nice to be able to find them. Along the Central Gulf Coast of TEXAS, one can not find anyone that will take them. When a “small” City, that has 1000′s of them to be removed and no one will take them at a cost that is NOT prohibitive, what doe’s one do? Find me a Shredder/Recycler! Thank you! The Labor of doing a Retaining wall using Rubber Tyre’s, has been found to be excessive for the City. We need one, BUT————!

  7. Maria permalink
    July 27, 2012

    I enjoyed this blog!!!

  8. Elyse Peters permalink
    July 27, 2012

    In addition to mobalizing the community and orgnaizing community clean ups, ECO-Action also has a hand in pushing local and state policy that will outline better enforcement as well as try to develop better compliance with the companies. The impact policy can have on public health is real and felt hardest by EJ communities, so pushing policies that will impact and improve these communities is a major key to a successful campaign and sustainable results. Working with local environmental lawyers, acadmeic institutions, and the City of Atlanta Tire Commission, ECO-Action is maximizing its partnerships to try to target and engage with many different stakeholders to develop a comprehensive policy.

  9. Robert Regan permalink
    October 29, 2012

    Great story!!! Congrats to ECO-Action for addressing the impacts in their community. I would imagine that this is a significant issue in many parts of the country and this organization lessons could be shared to help thers.

  10. Robert permalink
    March 16, 2013

    Great Blog I can’t imagine seeing thousands of tires in my backyard or my community. I wish there was a video with it, so we could see the transition from a polluted area to a clean and viable one.

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