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Waste Tires

     The Virginia DEQ is proud of its ongoing efforts to clean up waste tire piles and strengthen the market for Virginia-derived waste tire material.

In the 28 years since its inception, the Waste Tire Management Program at DEQ has reduced tire piles in the Commonwealth from over 1300 to just 97, removing over 24 million tires from private and publicly owned properties in the process.

At this time the Virginia DEQ’s Waste Tire Program does not contract cleanup activities, but still offers End User Reimbursement for those companies who re-use and recycle waste tire materials as well as offering limited cost-saving opportunities for private citizens in the process of cleaning up certified tire piles.

For more information about our programs or to report illegal waste tire dumping, please click on one of the links on the left:

VA Waste Tire Management Program

A Short History

    In the late 1980’s recapping of passenger and light truck tires, once a viable business utilizing millions of tires, had essentially ceased, and recycling opportunities for waste tires were practically non-existent.

Because landfilling was expensive (tires had to be cut apart before disposal), dumping became commonplace, and tires were piled in hundreds of locations throughout Virginia for erosion control purposes or temporary “storage,” awaiting the day when tires would be valuable for their petroleum content. 

At one time it was estimated that there were over 1,300 tire piles in the state, where approximately 25 million environmentally un-friendly tires were piled, creating not only eyesores, but also breeding places for mosquitos and other insects and potential fire hazards.

During the recycling legislative studies and initiatives of that time, waste tires were deemed "hard-to-recycle" items, and governmental action was recommended to stop the dumping and to encourage recycling. 

     In response, the 1989 General Assembly enacted a 50 cents per tire fee on tires sold at retail (Section 58.1-641 of the Code of Virginia) and DEQ was directed to develop and implement a plan (Section 10.1-1422 of the Code of Virginia) for the transportation and management of all waste tires generated in the Commonwealth. The funds were placed in the Waste Tire Trust Fund (Section 10.1-1422.3 of the Code of Virginia).

     The purpose of the Fund and Plan was to transform the struggling waste tire management system into a viable, long-term enterprise, capable of vastly improving the 1991 recycling level of 10%. The Plan called for the development of convenient recycling opportunities and markets for the material in order to prevent the creation of new tire landfills. With recycling in place, DEQ could then begin the process of ridding Virginia of the millions of tires in landfills.  As things moved along, General Assembly increased the fee to $1.00 per tire (in 2003), with all extra revenue dedicated to tire pile cleanups.  When those efforts seemed well in hand, the tire fee reverted to .50 per new tire sold (in 2011).

     Currently, the DEQ still provides a voluntary program to register waste tire haulers in the Commonwealth, and an End User Reimbursement Program to incentivize and reimburse waste tire processors when they capture, process, and/or beneficially use Virginia-generated tires.

     Our efforts have been an extraordinary success.

      At present, there are 97 active tire piles in the Commonwealth, holding an estimated 1.44 million tires, and the DEQ is committed to working with the public and the recycling community to reduce that number and continue to recycle waste tires responsibly for years to come.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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