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Tires


Waste tire pile in Lewis County

Washington State Overview

An environment free of waste tires is important to the public health of all Washington citizens. Piles of waste tires harbor mosquitoes, snakes and other vermin. West Nile Virus, transmitted by mosquitoes threatens health. Many tire piles have existed for a significant length of time and present a fire hazard. Tire piles continue to challenge state and local officials responsible for cleaning up unauthorized dumpsites and preventing further waste accumulation.

In 1989, the Washington State Legislature passed Substitute House Bill (SHB) 1671 (Sections 92 – 95). This bill established a $1 per tire fee on the retail sale of new vehicle tires for the Vehicle Tire Recycling Account (VTRA). This account provided approximately $14.4 million to clean up 12 million tires around the state. The fee collection ended in 1994 and the account was fully spent in 1998.

In 2005, the Washington State Legislature passed SHB 2085, creating a Waste Tire Removal Account with funds for cleanup of unauthorized and unlicensed tire piles. Funds for this account come from a $1 fee for each new replacement tire sold in Washington. The 2009 Legislature passed Senate Bill 5976 that transfers most of the collected tire fee revenue to Department of Transportation every other year (starting in 2011) (RCW 70.95.532). Ecology currently receives an annual tires budget of $500,000. This funding reflects an 80% reduction from previous years.

Ecology changed the focus of the Tire Program in light of the funding reduction. At the start of the program, we focused on removal of unauthorized tire piles. All of the tire piles identified in the 2005 Study of Unauthorized Tire Piles have been cleaned up along with many others.

Tire Program efforts in the coming years will shift to prevention and enforcement efforts. Ecology will work to:
  • Approve use of tire funds for cleanup of any new unauthorized tire piles.
  • Compare funds available to funds needed for both cleanup and prevention.
  • Recommend ongoing program efforts to prevent formation of future unauthorized tire piles.
  • Identify the program needs for future focus and possible request for additional funding from the legislature.
  • Investigate product stewardship possibilities.


Waste Tire Definition

A waste tire is a tire no longer
usable for its original intended
purpose because of wear, damage,
or defect (RCW 70.95.550).

How Can I Get Rid of Unwanted Tires?

This is the most common question. Almost all tire recycling or disposal options will cost you money, usually charged per tire or by weight. Here are a few options:
  • The best option is to leave your old tires at the tire store when you buy new ones. Those businesses have tires routinely picked up for recycling or disposal.
  • Call your local landfill or transfer station to ask if they accept tires. Some of those facilities stockpile the received tires and have them regularly collected by a recycler.
  • Contact a local tire hauler and ask for a cost estimate for them to come and remove large quantities from your property. This link provides a list of companies licensed to do this in Washington (see the explanation in the Fees and Licenses section).
  • Research tire recycling online and ask those companies if you can drop off your tires. Those operations do not take any and all tires.
  • Go to 1800recycle.wa.gov and search for tires to find options near your zipcode.
  • Call the 1-800-RECYCLE (1-800-732-9253) hotline during business hours 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM Monday thru Friday (except holidays) to ask for local options.
  • You can also search online using the Recycle Database using your zipcode.

Waste Tire Generation and Reuse in Washington

  • Waste tire generation in the US generally equals about 1 tire per person each year. That's about 7 million tires each year in Washington State. Most of those waste tires are collected for reuse or recycling.
  • Over the past ten years, 70 percent of waste tires in Washington are reused or recycled. The remainder end up in the landfill.
  • For more detailed information, review the documents on our publications page.

Types of Tires

  • Passenger car tires comprise 80 percent of annual waste tire generation. They weigh 22 pounds, on average.
  • Light truck tires, with a rim diameter of 17 inches or less, weigh about 35 pounds
  • Large truck (semi-truck) tires weigh up to 110 pounds
  • Off-the-road (OTR) tires, used for construction, agricultural, and large recreational vehicles and equipment have various types and weights
Content and weight of car and truck tires are listed below.
Component Passenger Car Tire Large Truck Tire
Natural rubber 14 % 27 %
Synthetic rubber 27 % 14 %
Carbon black 28 % 28 %
Steel 14 – 15 % 14 – 15 %
Fabric, fillers, accelerators, antiozonants, etc. 16 – 17 % 16 – 17 %
Average weight as new 25 pounds 120 pounds
Average weight as scrap 20 pounds 100 pounds

(Rubber Manufacturers Association)

Retreaded Tires

  • Retreaded tires contain up to 75 percent recycled content. Manufacturing one new truck tire takes 22 gallons of oil. Most of the oil is found in the casing, which is reused in the retreading process. As a result, it takes only 7 gallons of oil to produce a retread. Tire Retread Information Bureau reprinted with permission
  • Retreads are used by commercial trucking fleets, commercial and military jets, and most school buses.