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Heaps of Old Tires Threatening Environment

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Enviro Tire in Lillington recycles old tires.
LILLINGTON — They pile up by the millions, posingthreats to the environment and public health. In recent years, NorthCarolina has tackled more than 200 tire dumpsites and promoted properdisposal, but one recycling company in Harnett County thinks thestate can and should do better.

Instead of landing in a scrap heap, Victor Sibilia's tires will be putto good use after a trip through Envirotire, his recycling plant inLillington.

A conveyor system shreds the tires and extracts the rubber. Everything is recycled, even metal fibers. Sibilia calls his $6 millionplant the most sophisticated of its kind in the world, but the company'shad a bumpy ride since it opened here in 1995.

The company blames its struggle on state law. It is illegal to burytires if they're whole, but not if they're chopped up. A majority of tiresnow end up in landfills, which is cheaper than recycling.

Unless things change, EnviroTire plans to hit the road.

Tire recycling in North Carolina continues to face an uphill climb.

North Carolina's latest report on scrap tires describes the market forrecycled materials as weak, so this summer state lawmakers set aside$5 million for grants to boost demand over the next five years.

Editor's NoteThe number of tires disposed every year in North Carolina is astounding. Last year, we threw out 10-point-six million tires. 45-percent of thosewere recycled, one way or another. 55-percent were cut up and dumped intolandfills. You pay a two-percent tax on every new tire to pay fordisposal of the old ones.

Photographer:Rick Allen

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