Connecticut has become the first state to pass an EPR for tires bill in both chambers. The bill, HB 6486, is expected to be signed into law by Governor Ned Lamont. The bill requires tire manufacturers to finance, operate, and report on the post-consumer management of their products. The bill will decrease illegal dumping, better protect consumers, and boost tire recycling in the state.
HB 6486, sponsored by Representative Joseph Gresko since 2018 and Senator Rick Lopes, has been championed by PSI board members Tom Metzner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) and Jen Heaton-Jones of the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority (HRRA) and chair of the CT Product Stewardship Council. In 2015, PSI staff Scott Cassel and Suna Bayrakal facilitated a national multi-stakeholder tire stewardship dialogue for the CT DEEP, including a tire stewardship briefing document and a tire EPR policy model, which laid the foundation for HB 6486.
Once signed, the law is expected to increase the retreading and recycling of a significant number of the roughly 3.1 million scrap tires generated annually in the state. About 75 percent of these had been burned as tire-derived fuel (TDF) until the TDF incineration plant in Sterling, Conn. (Exeter Energy) closed in June 2014. Now there are fewer outlets for retread, recycling, or beneficial use of scrap tires in Connecticut, with a resulting increase in illegally dumped tires.
Currently, Connecticut retailers and repair shops typically charge customers a tire recycling fee after replacing their tire, which is supposed to cover the cost of proper transport, recycling, or disposal. However, without the right incentives, a transparent reporting system, or funding for local and state government enforcement, tires are dumped illegally to avoid end of life management fees. As a result, Connecticut consumers are often double charged—once for recycling that never happens and again through taxes used to collect dumped tires from waterways, forests, and roadsides. In 2014, more than 16,000 illegally dumped tires were picked up by the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Tires that lie in stockpiles or illegal dumps cause environmental threats and public health hazards like mosquito-borne illness and fire risk.
Under the new EPR law, the same fee will be moved to the point-of-sale, so no customer, repair shop, transporter, or retailer has an incentive to illegally dump tires. Additionally, under HB 6486 transporters are paid only upon delivery of the tires to a processor or end market, removing any incentive for them to illegally dump tires. The entire system must be managed by tire manufacturers, including transparent and auditable reporting to the state—a system of accountability that will prevent illegal dumping and protect consumers.
Tire EPR programs have been operating successfully in Canada since the 1990s. With an EPR law, the province of Ontario, Canada achieved a 100 percent diversion rate – all scrap tires collected are now recycled and illegal dumping has been virtually eliminated.
The tire law will be the sixth EPR law in Connecticut and marks the third time that the state has led the nation with a first product EPR bill—the other two being mattresses (2013) and gas cylinders (2022). A 2017 PSI study found that the four EPR programs operating in Connecticut at the time (paint, mattresses, electronics, and mercury thermostats) had diverted more than 26 million pounds of material from disposal, yielding cumulative cost savings of more than $2.6 million per year to Connecticut municipalities, creating more than 100 jobs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 13 million kilograms of carbon equivalent. We anticipate similar results for Connecticut’s tires EPR law.