- A state audit of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) tire recycling program found that many scrap tire sites are not complying with existing laws and regulators weren't aware of 11 new dump sites, as reported by NJ Spotlight.
- In total, 29 sites which contained approximately 350,000 to 565,000 scrap tires were out of compliance with state regulations. Unauthorized piles at an additional 13 junkyards containing up to 156,000 tires were also found using satellite map software.
- Inspectors have already visited most of the sites and are working to bring them into compliance. The audit suggested requiring site owners to reimburse the state for clean-up expenses, possibly through property liens.
A 2004 state law placed a $1.50 tax on new tires in order to fund clean-up efforts, and this raised at least $2.3 million for the purpose, but the funds have since been diverted for other uses. Over the past 10 years the majority of the $9.2 million raised from this tax has been used by the state's Department of Transportation for snow removal.
While DEP Commissioner Bob Martin recognized the issue, he also noted that the amount of illegal tires is down by more than 80% since 2004. However, it is clear that despite the decrease in illegal tires, it is still a pressing issue for state officials — and could potentially lead to health and safety complications.
Scrap tires can create fire hazards, breeding grounds for disease-bearing mosquitoes and other environmental issues if not properly managed. Arkansas legislators have also called for an audit into their state's tire management system and Houston now requires scrap tire recyclers to register with the city in an effort to reduce illegal dumping. A team of researchers recently debuted their work on biodegradable tires made from synthetic rubber, though the concept is likely still years away from hitting the market.