Monday, August 11, 2014

The Used Tire Tsunami

Trash and tires. Looks like a homeless person will burn these tires, turning them into toxic air pollution.
They're everywhere: Discarded on sidewalks, abandoned in empty lots, tossed onto median strips, rolled into rivers....Old, used and useless tires are becoming part of Bogotá's landscape. The proliferation of car and truck tires is yet another example of how cars privatize benefits while passing their costs, including noise, pollution and congestion, onto society.

A tire decorates a sidewalk.
Expect the Petro administration to make some pronouncements and posters urging Bogotano car owners to do the right thing by spending time and money to properly dispose of old tires. But Petro's fantasies about people being altruistic and civic minded are, sadly, mostly fantasies. Instead, many people and businesses find it cheaper and easier to dump old tires in the nearest empty public space - where they collect water and breed mosquitoes and can catch fire, pouring thick, oily smoke into the air. Even when the tires are trucked off to a dump, they cause the same problems.

Bogotá generates some 2.5 million used tires per year, according to the Secretaria de Ambiente, 30% of which end up dumped in parks, rivers and fields. In 2010, the city issued a resolution requiring tire sellers to accept used tires free of charge. But either that doesn't happen, or the sellers just toss those same tires back out onto public space.

Will this guy use these tires - or dump them?
The only real solution here are measures which Petro doesn't believe in - legal penalties and economic sanctions. Tire manufacturers and importers should be charged a tax on each tire. That money would be used to pay a deposit for each tire turned in and properly discarded. If used tires do not disappear from the landscape, then the tax would increase. The tire industry would also have to pay to develop a system to reuse or recycle the tires, perhaps by turning them into paving material.

But don't expect any real solutions from Petro, who seems to fear most hurting the interests of big business.

This tire shop tosses its discard tires by its own doorstep.
Used tires piled up outside a tire shop. Will they be tossed in a river tonight?
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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