I don’t enjoy buying new tires. They are expensive, and the need for replacement seems to come around too often. On the other hand, driving with old, worn out tires is unsafe and very dangerous. If you have tires to dispose of or if you know of an illegal pile of tires, read on for solutions to get rid of them responsibly.

Let’s first review what makes up a tire. Roadandtrack.com informs us that “The principal elements of a tire are its tread contacting the road, the underlying belts stabilizing this tread, its sidewalls protecting the tire from curbs and the like, its beads at the wheel interface, its body plies defining the carcass shape and an interliner maintaining inflation pressure.” Each tire contains materials that can be salvaged and reused instead of leaving them in piles to harbor disease-carrying rodents and mosquitoes, catch fire and cause significant environmental damage, or leach toxic substances into the land and waterways. Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s website notes that by the early 1990’s there were more than 300 unlicensed stockpiles in Maine totaling many millions of scrap tires. By the mid-2000’s, the piles had largely been cleaned up, but at significant cost to remove the environmental, public health, and safety concerns.

According to the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association, the main uses for scrap tires are in civil engineering applications such as building materials and rubberized asphalt, ground rubber to serve as erosion control and playground cover, and tire-derived fuel to power manufacturing plants. The Sappi paper mill in Skowhegan burns old tires as fuel to power the operation. A company called EcoBorder uses scrap tires to make garden hedging. On trendhunter.com you can learn about artists who convert scrap bicycle and car tires into jewelry, belts, furniture, handbags, shoes, and artwork. Practical uses for old tires include do-it-yourself garden beds or ponds, tire swings, and animal feeders.

Here in Lincoln County, the Boothbay, Nobleboro and Waldoboro Transfer Stations will accept scrap tires, with rims removed, and charge you a small fee (under $5 per tire). The Bristol Transfer Station does not accept tires. Local tire stores including Sullivan Tire, Don Foshay Tire, Grover Auto and Tire, and Skip Cahill Tire also will accept worn out tires, with rims removed, for a small fee (under $5). They will then pay a fee to a recycler to haul them away.

Buying retreaded tires is another option that has many benefits to consumers, taxpayers, and the environment. Did you know that all commercial airlines and military jets use retreaded tires? The retreading process uses carefully inspected tire casings to produce safe tires at 30-50% of the cost while using 25-30% of the oil needed to produce a new tire. Advice is mixed on the use of retreads on cars, but there is a strong market for retreaded truck and aircraft tires. This website provides further details: http://www.carsdirect.com/car-repair/2-tire-repair-laws-to-be-aware-of

With tires, as with all products, we recommend reducing your consumption of them. When that’s not possible, finding ways to reuse or donate items is the next best step. Lastly, please recycle responsibly.

By Linda Shaffer, Member of the Keep Pemaquid Peninsula Beautiful Steering Committee

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