HARNETT COUNTY — TheFirestone recallwill add more than 6.5 million tires to the estimated 270 million already scrapped each year. For 60 counties in central and eastern North Carolina, the tires end up in Central Carolina Tire Disposal in southwest Harnett County.
Thanks to the state's extra 1 percent sales tax on new tires, Thomas Wamble's company gets paid to truck in old tires from landfills. The volume at his company has jumped ten percent in the past few months.
"I feel like it's partly due to the recall and partly due to people becoming more aware of the condition of their tires," he says. "We would anticipate this year shredding about five million tires."
The trashed tires are run through a massive shredder.
"It takes up less space in landfills if you have to landfill some, and at the same time, it makes the product more viable for potential use," he says.
The shreds can be used for anything from drainage pipes and road construction, to fuel and mulch. Wamble says one misconception about shredded tires is that everyone thinks it is a valuable asset.
He says the problem is many products require steel strands to be removed, which is much more labor intensive and expensive. Many shreds end up in Wamble's private landfill.
"We've done away with illegal dumping because now they go from the tire dealer to the county landfill to us," he says.
The Scrap Tire Management Council estimates that two-thirds of old tires are now recycled.