Every year tens of millions of tyres are disposed of in the UK. Find out how this affects the environment, and what we are doing to prevent waste tyres being disposed of illegally.
Waste tyre crime - help to stop it
Britain’s tyre recovery business is being compromised by criminals. Keeping waste tyres without a licence is a crime.
The UK produces around 55 million waste tyres a year. If not properly reused, recycled or disposed, waste tyres can:
- impact on the environment
- affect local communities, and
- undermine legitimate businesses
Watch this short video and read the transcript:
- Video: Waste crime: tyres
Sarah Chare, Head of Operations, talks about the importance of treating waste tyres within the law.
What can you do to help?
If you are a business and pass your tyres on for disposal, take the following steps to protect yourself from waste criminals:
As a guide, it currently costs between 60 and 80 pence to dispose of a tyre legally in the UK. If it costs less, it doesn’t necessarily mean the tyres will be disposed of illegally, as profit can be made elsewhere in the chain, such as at the point of export. Ask your contractor how they dispose of your waste tyres.
Check the carriers permissions and make sure you know what the permissions mean.
Ask if they are a member of the Tyre Industry Federation's Responsible Recycler Scheme.
Ask to see their waste carriers registration certificate or copy card.
You can call us on 08708 506 506 to verify the information or you can check their registration on our public register.
If you see suspicious activity or have any information about illegal waste activities of any sort, report it to our Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60, or report it confidentially to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their secure online form:
All vehicle owners can help by checking that their old tyres will be disposed of responsibly.
Do you know your responsibilities?
Anyone who produces, imports, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of waste tyres must follow the legal requirements contained in the Duty of care:
If you carry, deal or broker waste tyres you may be legally required to register with the Environment Agency for a licence to operate. Check if this applies to you:
Tyre recovery in the UK
Waste tyres can be used in various ways. They can provide fuel for cement kilns or be turned into products such as flooring, road surfaces, furniture and shoes. Bales of tyres can be used in the construction of modern engineered landfill sites and flood defences. If waste tyres are in good condition, they can be re-moulded and put back on the road as ‘re-treads’.
In 2010, just over 30 per cent of waste tyres were turned into crumb, 18 per cent were used in energy recovery, nearly 20 per cent were re-used (in the UK or abroad), 16 per cent were specifically used in landfill engineering and 11 per cent were re-treaded.
Organised criminal gangs are charging people to collect their waste tyres and then illegally dumping or exporting them to avoid the costs of proper treatment.
Illegally dumped stockpiles can present a serious fire risk to communities and the environment. Burning tyres can cause significant pollution, releasing toxic smoke and chemicals into the environment. The cost of fighting these fires and clearing up afterwards is high; sometimes being funded by taxpayers money, where there is significant risk to people and the environment, but often private landowners are left paying the bill.
While there is a legitimate export market for quality recyclable material, the illegal export of waste undermines law-abiding disposal and tyre recovery businesses here in the UK and risks harming people and the environment in the country the waste is exported to.
What are we doing?
We are working with the police, local authorities and other partners. We share intelligence to disrupt, stop and prosecute waste criminals, putting them out of business and taking back the profits of their crimes.
We take enforcement action to prosecute the criminals who profit from illegal storage, treatment and disposal of waste tyres.
In the last three years we have successfully prosecuted 13 defendants for tyre crime. Five people have served time in jail.
To date in 2012, we are leading four major investigations relating to illegal export of tyres and 36 smaller investigations.
In 2011 the total fines added up to £64,700 and the largest single fine was £20,000.
We are working with industry and the Tyre Recovery Association to ensure tyres are disposed of correctly and do not enter the illegal waste stream.