Scrap tires discarded on a hillside at the DWM3 tire site

Missouri citizens generate about six million scrap tires a year, or about one per person per year. Just what is a scrap tire? A scrap tire is a tire that can that can no longer be used as it was originally designed to be used, it has sat out in the elements for over a year, has been cut up in some fashion or someone has placed it somewhere just to be rid of it.

An environment free of scrap tires is important to the public health of all Missouri citizens. Why? Scrap tires can become homes for mosquitoes, snakes and other vermin. Mosquitoes breed in the stagnant water that collects inside tires. Because diseases transmitted by mosquitoes can be a serious health threat, removing and properly managing scrap tires is a priority in Missouri. 

Disposal Options

Do NOT burn them! It is illegal to burn tires in Missouri, except at facilities approved by the department. Uncontrolled tire burning can pollute our air, water and groundwater.

Some options for properly disposing of scrap tires are:

  • Homeowners may dispose of their tires with their household trash as long as they are properly cut first. Either cut the sidewalls out of each tire, creating two sidewalls and the tread ring, or cut each tire through the center of the tread ring (like a bagel) and dispose of the pieces with the household trash. Tires cut in either of these two ways are the only way a permitted sanitary landfill may accept tires for disposal.
  • For small numbers of scrap tires, choose the simple and easy route! Take those few tires to a tire dealer or retail store that sells tires and pay the disposal fee for each tire. These businesses will properly dispose of the used tires they collect.
  • For large numbers of scrap tires, contact a permitted scrap tire hauler to remove and dispose of the tire(s).
  • If you know of any scrap tire dumps and know of any non-governmental, non-profit organizations that might provide volunteers to help with a tire dump cleanup, the group may qualify to receive reimbursement for the disposal costs. For more information about this reimbursement program, visit Scrap Tire Cleanup and Disposal Reimbursement.

The Bigger Picture

Surveyors measuring the tire piles at the RIM Tire Site
Surveyors measuring the tire piles at the RIM Tire site.

By 1990, illegal scrap tire piles had become so large and widespread in Missouri that the State Legislature passed Senate Bill 530. This legislation acknowledged scrap tires as a significant waste stream in the state and established a scrap tire fee to fund the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' scrap tire oversight and management activities, scrap tire cleanups, educational programs/ curriculum about solid waste management and scrap tire surface material grants. The 50-cent scrap tire fee is applied to the retail sale of every new tire. 

Scrap tires being shredded at the Bishop Tire Site, 2006
Scrap tire shredding at the Bishop Tire Site, 2006.

From 2006 until 2018, the department conducted a scrap tire cleanup program called the Scrap Tire Roundup. The department partnered with the Missouri Department of Corrections to cleanup tire dump sites containing between 500 to 10,000 tires. Due to the economic feasibility of conducting these cleanups, the department shifted its focus from conducting tire cleanups to encouraging and supporting the development of alternative, beneficial uses for scrap tires. The department uses the funds generated by the scrap tire fees to create economic incentives for properly managing scrap tires in Missouri. The department also educates individuals and businesses and strives to maintain a level playing field for all industry members through permitting scrap tire processors, inspecting scrap tire businesses and taking enforcement actions as needed. For general information about managing scrap tires, visit Management of Scrap Tires - PUB2056.

Since authorization and funding began in 1990 -

  • High school running track made bouncy by ground tire rubber.
    A running track in which recycled scrap tires were used as the surface material.
    More than 17.6 million scrap tires from 1,386 scrap tire sites have been cleaned up, including properly disposing of all dumped tires.
    • The department estimates there are a little over 159,000 scrap tires in 132 known sites around the state that still need to be removed
    • The department estimates there may be an additional 500,000 tires remaining in dump sites statewide that have not been discovered
  • Approximately 2,000 scrap tire haulers have been permitted, with 60-70 haulers receiving new permits or renewing their existing permits each year.
  • Inspections are conducted each year at a number of the estimated 6,000-7,000 scrap tire collection centers located in the state
  • Approximately 30 scrap tire processors have been permitted for operation to process whole scrap tires into shredded tires, tire chips or crumb rubber as feedstock material for other uses.
  • By the end of 2021, the department estimates that over 40,000 tons of scrap tires will have been diverted from the waste stream and manufactured into a variety of playground surface materials, rubber mats, benches, tables, and other alternative uses for scrap tire materials.

For more information about scrap tires, visit Scrap Tire Guidance Documents and Fact Sheets.