Year after year, Michigan’s Scrap Tire Program rolls on: In 2023, the program cleaned up over 507,000 passenger tires – more than 126,000 four-wheeled vehicles’ worth – with a few efforts yet to be tallied. In Michigan, is it illegal to dispose of whole motor vehicle tires in landfills. Instead, the Scrap Tire Program administered by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) regulates proper disposal, transportation, and storage, as well as cleanup of existing scrap piles of 500 or more tires. Scrap tire transporters and collection sites must register each year, and program staff regularly inspect scrap tire collection sites, processors, end users, and generators, including tire dealers and auto scrap yards.

Why? Because improper management of scrap tires can be hazardous to the environment and public health, not to mention unsightly. Runoff from hard-to-extinguish tire fires can contaminate water, and scrap tires are an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry disease such as West Nile Virus. In the October 2022-September 2023 fiscal year (FY), the program tallied 408 inspections related to collection sites, haulers, retailers, grants, and complaints.

Cleanups in FY 2023 involved 97 grants totaling nearly $1.4 million. Seven – including two carried over from the previous year – were for privately owned sites. For the cleanup and recycling of tires determined to have been dumped or collected after 1991 on private sites, grants are subject to repayment. Of the 90 community cleanups, five did not end up using any funding.

EGLE has approved 135 applications for 2024 cleanup grants in 75 of Michigan’s 83 counties. Michigan generates more than 10 million scrap tires a year. These tires can be turned into mulch, tire-derived fuel, incorporated into road pavement, shredded and used for aggregate in backfill and drain fields, and to manufacture new tires and plastics.

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