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Waste Tire Recycling

Products Made from Waste Tires

Wall made of Waste Tires Buring of Waste Tires is Prohibited

Iowans generate more than 3 million waste tires each year. Proper management and disposal of waste tires is vital to ensure the quality of the environment and public health and safety. State

laws, as well as DNR regulations and programs, are designed to ensure that waste tires are properly disposed of, while encouraging the processing and recycling of tire material into value added products and uses.

Waste Tire Facts and Figures

Pie chart of recycled waste tires
  • Tire-derived fuel (TDF):
    2 million tires
  • Crumb rubber:
    720,000 tires
  • Landfill "leachate" filter material: 700,000 tires
  • Misc. whole/cut tire use: 70,000 tires

Waste Tire Generation

  • Iowans generate 3 million waste tires annually
  • Over 270 million waste tires are annually generated in the United States
  • One scrap tire is generated per person, per year
  • Annual waste tire generation composes 1.8 percent of municipal solid waste (MSW) by weight

Recycled

  • 77.6 percent of waste tires generated annually in the United States are recovered and recycled
  • Approximately 40 percent of these recovered tires are converted to tire-derived fuel (TDF), and consumed by power plants, industrial boilers and cement kilns as a fuel supplement
  • Other markets include civil engineering applications for shredded tires, crumb rubber producers and beneficial reuses of whole waste tires
  • The major market in Iowa for recovered waste tires is TDF

Recycled Content

  • Retreaded tires contain 75 percent recycled content
  • New tires contain no more than 2 percent recycled rubber

Types of Tires

  • Passenger Car Tires - comprise 80 percent of annual waste tire generation. The average passenger car tire weighs 20 pounds
  • Light truck tires, with a rim diameter of 17 inches or less, weigh approximately 35 pounds
  • Large truck (semi-truck) tires weigh up to 105 pounds
  • Off-the-ro ad (OTR) tires - various types and weights, including tires for construction, agricultural, and large recreational vehicles and equipment

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Waste Tire Disposal and Storage Options

Iowa Law and administrative rules provide clear direction on the storage and disposal requirements for waste tires. Land disposal of waste tires has been prohibited since July 1, 1991. The burial or open burning of waste tires is strictly prohibited.

Quick facts on waste tire storage and disposal:

  • The indoor or outdoor storage of waste tires in limited to 500 tires. Any tire storage beyond this limit will require a permit.
  • The open burning of waste tires is strictly prohibited.
  • Waste tires, including whole, cut, or shredded form, may not be dumped or buried on the landscape.
  • Whole waste tires (pneumatic) are banned from disposal at a sanitary landfill unless cut into pieces of 18 inches or less. A landfill shall accept a properly processed tire for disposal.

State laws and rules regarding waste tire disposal and storage:

Frequently Asked Questions on Waste Tire Disposal
Some common questions and answers concerning waste tire disposal options are listed below, along with related information and resources.

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Hazards of Improper Disposal of Waste Tires

Generators of any solid waste have a responsibility to properly dispose of such waste, so as toprevent and minimize any harm to land, air and water quality.

Proper disposal of waste tires through tire recyclers and processors is the best way to ensure that waste tires are properly disposed of. While the cost for improper disposal may seem less, improper disposal of waste tires may lead to problems down the road.

Burning of Tires - Open burning of waste tires is prohibited by Iowa Law. Even if you are burning brush, construction debris, etc., do not include waste tires. Open burning of waste tires releases hazardous components and toxic gases, many of which are carcinogens.  Tire dumps or improperly managed stockpiles of waste tires that catch fire present serious risks to the environment:

  • Tire fires are difficult to extinguish. The components of a tire that makes it an excellent fuel source in a controlled environment also makes tire fires difficult to put out. Oily residues and gases released during combustion continue to fuel such fires, along with a continual source of oxygen from the open-spaces within and between tires in stockpiles.
  • Tire fires contaminate the soil and groundwater. The oil and ash created during tire fires can contaminate the ground, thus impacting the quality of our ground and surface wasters and the water that we drink with petroleum distillates, carcinogens and other toxins.

Risk of Disease - Tire dumps and improperly discarded tires are ideal breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes and rodents. Tires retain water, and their dark colored surfaces absorb sunlight, providing a warm and suitable environment for mosquitoes. These pests have the ability to transmit diseases to humans, including LaCrosse encephalitis and West Nile Virus, which can be fatal to humans. Other pests, rodents and vermin can find harborage in the intricate structures that the haphazardly discarded waste tires create.

Blight on the Landscape - Discarding of waste tires in ditches, ravines and sinkholes often times does not assist in any erosion control, but may allow water to stagnate and again add to the risk of disease by creating breeding grounds for pests. Improper use of waste tires in erosion control structures usually leads to waste tires that have been washed downstream and later deposited on river banks, flood plains or outwash areas. Discarding waste tires in public areas, roadsides or vacant lots attracts further dumping of other solid wastes, appliances and junk, and creates further nuisances and unsightliness.

The Real Cost to You - Improper disposal by dumping of waste tires isn't free; it will actually cost in the long run, as local government most likely will be left with the responsibility for cleanup of public areas, right-of-ways and abandoned properties where waste tires have been dumped. These costs are passed on to you through increased taxes, or you may find that local governments that spend money on clean-up of improperly discarded solid waste have far fewer dollars to use for maintenance of roadways, new road construction and other positive programs and services.

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DNR Contact
Amy Buckendahl
515-281-8150
Amy.Buckendahl@dnr.iowa.gov


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