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Is Tire Burning Really Recycling?

tiresWhen you buy a new tire in Oklahoma you may notice a tire recycling fee. Many people believe this means their old tires are being recycled but many of Oklahoma’s tires go to cement kilns to be burned for fuel. While some consider this recycling, is it really? And is it safe?

When Erie, Pa wanted to start burning tires in their power plant a group of residents formed the group KEEP (Keep Erie’s Environment Protected) and had this to say about the idea.

“They are calling this a completely green, renewable thing; well, burning tires isn’t considered renewable by anybody,” said KEEP member Dennis Stratton, an electrical engineer. “They talk about gasification and liquefaction. You’re going to be throwing tire chunks into an oven at 1,600 degrees; I don’t care what you call it, it’s still going to be burning.” –read more

When tires are burned they release many toxins. Some of the toxins include things like dioxins, which are highly toxic and causes seriously health problems. The World Health Organization says most toxic forms of dioxin are the most carcinogenic substances known to science.  Tires also contain petrochemical feedstock which includes styrene (a benzene derivative) and butadiene, both are carcinogens. Heavy metals are also often released.

One of the places that burns tires in Oklahoma is the cement plant in Ada. The facility is listed as a “high-priority violator” of the Clean Air Act by the EPA. The plant has been out of compliance for many years.

There are ways to use tires in more environmentally friendly ways. Tires can be used as mulch, in asphalt, to make playgrounds and many other things. These options can help keep a lot of pollution out of our air, while still dealing with the disposal issues with tires.

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Photo Credit:  Public Domain 


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Lisa Sharp is the founder of Green Oklahoma. She is passionate about the environment and improving Oklahoma for future generations. She also writes on her personal blog Retro Housewife Goes Green.

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