Deadline Nears to Keep Tires from Landfills

Tennessee counties have until July 2002 to stop putting shredded tires in landfills.

More than 20 of the state’s 95 counties still send tire shreds to be buried.

But the head of the University of Tennessee’s Energy, Environment and Resources Center says the state’s making good progress toward meeting next year’s deadline.

Dr. Jack Barkenbus, who also serves on the state’s solid waste advisory committee, says Tennessee counties already burn about 3.5 million tires per year.

“About 70 percent of Tennesee’s turnover in tires are being taken care of primarily through burning facilities these days,” Barkenbus said. “That-s about the national average, so we are finding places that will take large quantities of tires so we’re not having to put them into sites and we are actually on a slow basis cleaning up old abandoned sites that have a lot of tires in them as well.

“The state has a list of ones that they’re aware of and they’re slowly working on the backlog of trying to find get those out of there and burn those as well, so I think we’re making pretty good progress.”

Barkenbus headed a UT advisory committee five years ago that recommended a $1 new tire fee to help keep old tires out of landfills. He says the plan has helped the state raise $4.3 million to find other ways to dispose of the tires.

“One of the things we suggested in our report for the state 10 years ago was a $1 charge on new tires that would help in the disposal of these things. Now, the money is being used for that purpose and is getting the tires into these large burning facilities.”