AUSTIN, Texas—New Year's Eve not only ushered in 1998, it marked the end of Texas' scrap tire recycling program. Although the state discontinued the program it established in 1992 to clean up scrap tire piles, the Texas Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association is encouraging dealers to collect a voluntary disposal fee from customers.
Tire dealers now can choose to charge a fee on used tires to defray their scrap disposal costs, according to TTDRA Executive Director Kay Knapp. The fee ranges from 50 cents to $5 per tire, depending on the distance from each dealer to the nearest scrap tire processor, Knapp said.
Participating dealers are hanging signs in their businesses alerting customers to the fee. If consumers don't want to foot the bill, dealers ask them to sign a consumer responsibility agreement in which they pledge to dispose of the tires legally, she said.
Before the law mandating the state program expired, Texas required dealers to charge $2 on the sale of new car tires with 12- to 17.5-inch rim diameters; $3.50 per new large truck tire; and $1 for each used tire.
The state used the funds to develop tire recycling programs and pay scrap tire transporters and processors.
The program expired at the end of 1997 because lawmakers couldn't reach a consensus on whether tire processors or recyclers should receive most of the subsidy, a Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission spokesman said.
The law has prompted the state to clean up about 20 million scrap tires in 600 illegal dumps, he said. Texas has appropriated $9 million this year to clear 300 existing tire piles. Tire dumping is illegal in Texas, and dealers must document where they ship scrap tires.
The TNRCC and TTDRA both hope the free enterprise system will continue recycling scrap tires even though the state no longer will subsidize processors or transporters, the groups said.
``The markets have been established for scrap tires,'' the TNRCC spokesman said. ``The question on everyone's mind now is: How strong will these markets be?''