ZERO WASTE is the recycling of all materials back into nature or the marketplace in a manner that protects human health and the environment.



The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40: Environmental ProtectionChapter I: Environmental Protection AgencySubchapter I: Solid WastesPart 243-GUIDELINES FOR THE STORAGE AND COLLECTION OF RESIDENTIAL, COMMERCIAL, AND INSTITUTIONAL SOLID WASTE, Subpart B -Requirements and recommended procedures, Sec. 243.200-1 Requirements. (a) All solid wastes (or materials which have been separated for the purpose of recycling) shall be stored in such a manner that they do not constitute a fire, health, or safety hazard or provide food or harborage for vectors (i.e., mosquitoes), and shall be contained or bundled so as not to result in spillage.

ZWA believes that in order to be in compliance with this regulation, states must require that tires be stored in enclosed buildings equipped with a sprinkler system which is connected to a guaranteed water supply. Only in this manner can fire hazards and mosquito infestations be prevented. Spraying tires to control mosquitoes does not work. There are innumerable places for water to collect, acting as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. SEE: PA DEP EXCERPTS BELOW

States that allow tire stockpiles are in violation of federal law. Notify your regional EPA Office and regional U.S. Attorney General's Office. They are responsible for the states being in compliance with federal law. Some EPA and U.S. Attorneys will suggest that waste management is a federal program that has been handed over to state authority by the federal government. That is true, as long as the states enforce federal law. Once the states stop enforcing federal law, the EPA or U.S. Attorney's Office can and should require compliance, through court action if necessary.

ZWA NOTE: Readers may ask themselves why the PA DEP does not require tires to be stored in enclosed buildings as suggested above?

PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) - Tire Mosquitoes and Fires

Along with their potential as fire hazards, tire stockpiles also provide an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Because tires partially fill with water regardless of their position and absorb sunlight, they provide an ideal environment for hatched larvae. Although tire dumps are sometimes associated with rodents, the primary problem has been with various species of disease-carrying mosquitoes that like to breed in tires. In fact, Culex pipiens is commonly referred to as the "tire pile mosquito."

Of the many species of mosquitoes that currently breed in Pennsylvania, at least two varieties are important carriers of disease. These mosquitoes, Aedes triseriatus and Culex pipiens, transmit two strains of encephalitis: LaCrosse encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis. Recently, a third mosquito is cause for concern.

Putting Out a Tire Fire

Waste tires and waste tire stockpiles are difficult to ignite. But once on fire, tires burn very hot and are very difficult to extinguish. In addition, the doughnut-shaped tire casings allow air drafts to stoke the fire.


Using water to extinguish a tire fire is often a futile effort, because an adequate water supply is usually unavailable. Also, water sprayed on burning tires cools them down, producing an oily run-off which can contaminate nearby surface and groundwater.


Using fire-retarding foams is another possible method to extinguish a tire fire. Concentrated foams are mixed with water and sprayed through a hose. But foams can contribute to the run-off problem and are generally expensive to use due to the large amount needed to put out a tire fire.

Dirt and Sand

Smothering a tire fire with dirt or sand is perhaps the best current option for extinguishing tire fires. The sand or dirt is moved in with heavy equipment to cover the burning tires. This technique does not contribute as greatly to the oil run-off problem and is generally faster and cheaper than foams or water.

Smothering a tire fire is the method supported by EPA and has been used numerous times throughout the United States. Smothering was the method used by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to extinguish a 30,000-tire fire in Andover, Minnesota, in February 1989. Smothering was also used at a one-million-tire fire in Denver in 1987.

Allowed to Burn

Sometimes tire fires are allowed to burn when they occur in isolated areas away from surface water or population centers. However, a large tire fire can smolder for several weeks or even months, sometimes with dramatic effects on the surrounding environment. In 1983, a 7-million-tire fire in Virginia burned for almost nine months, polluting nearby water sources. The heat from tire fires causes some of the rubber to break down into an oily material. Prolonged burning increases the likelihood of surface and groundwater pollution by the oily material.