Rolling in the Sunshine State

By Cherie Graves

Ever wonder how many vehicles you pass on the way to work? Or how many tires are rolling across Florida right now? And what becomes of those gazillion tires when they go bald or flat?

As it turns out, DEP keeps track of that sort of thing. An estimated 16,500,000 automobile, light truck and smaller tires, plus 550,000 medium truck and larger tires were removed from vehicles in Florida according to the 2011 “Waste Tires in Florida, State of the State” report.traffic

Sixteen million tires take up a lot of landfill space. Stockpiling isn’t particularly helpful – retired tires, especially piles and piles of them, provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes that transmit serious diseases such as West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis. We learned from assisting with the cleanup of Osborne Reef that dumping them into the ocean as an artificial reef isn’t a good idea. And we definitely don’t need that many tire swings. So just what do we do with all those tires? DEP keeps track of that, too.

  • Waste-to-energy facilities used nearly 50 percent of the old tires to enhance combustion temperature control and generate electricity.
  • Nearly 480,000 tires were shredded and used instead in place of soil and aggregate for projects such as landfill drainage layers, methane gas collection systems and septic system drainage trenches.
  • Crumb rubber made of tires from the Polk City waste tire site was used to produce rubber modified asphalt for paving the Withlacoochee State Trail (designated a National Recreation Trail) and the Van Fleet State Trail in 1995, the first use of rubber modified asphalt for a trail in the U.S.
  • Recycled tires are used as fuel in cement kilns and pulp and paper factories.
  • Tire shreds can be used to stabilize soil when constructing road embankments.
  • Ground rubber is used in rubberized asphalt to pave playgrounds, running tracks and roads.

In any case, 18-wheeler or 4-wheeler size, DEP’s waste tire management program addresses how tires should be moved, stored, processed, used or disposed. In addition, DEP distributes grants to counties to help manage waste tires. For anyone needing to just dispose of a tire or two, contact a local tire center or your city or county waste management department.

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