A 2020 survey conducted by eTracks Tire Management Systems — a company that works on behalf of tire producers to meet their regulatory obligations of recycling tires — is looking to dispel the myths and misinformation about the tire recycling industry, and with good cause: the survey revealed that only one third (37 percent) of Ontarians know that, in Ontario, tires are recycled.
Nearly half (49 percent) of Ontarians do not know whether they’re recycled or thrown into landfills, and 14 percent of residents – a whopping 1.5 million adults in Ontario – do not believe tires are recycled at all. In reality, tire manufacturers and automakers are responsible for recycling every tire they sell in Ontario, yet only 32 percent know this is the case.
“Regardless of some of these knowledge gaps and myths, it’s encouraging to know Ontarians want to help the environment,” said Steve Meldrum, CEO of eTracks Tire Management Systems. “And while the survey shows that knowledge of the tire recycling industry is mixed, there’s an opportunity to use these results as a tool to change perceptions and help eliminate misinformation.”
In order to fund the jobs and services in the tire recycling industry, a small fee of approximately $4 per tire is added to the consumer’s cost when purchasing new car tires. This is generally broken out as a separate fee, but can be included in the price of the new tire. However, more than half of Ontarians (55 percent) do not know there’s a fee. Only one in four of Ontario residents are aware of the fee and its purpose, while another 20 percent know of the fee but do not know what it is for.
When asked to choose between a variety of options as reasons for the fee, nearly half (46 percent) said they believe it is a government tax, and 14 percent presume the funds are collected to pay for landfill fees. Regardless, the majority of residents (78 percent) say they’re happy to pay a small fee when purchasing tires if it helps the environment.
“When a recycling fee is made completely transparent with the purchase of new tires, it is a great opportunity for people to see where their money is going and learn how it’s being used to benefit the environment,” says Meldrum. “Understanding what the fee funds, and what products are created as a result, can help lead to better decisions that help to support the industry and combat climate change.”
Once tires are recycled, they can be made into a variety of different products for both commercial and consumer use. Although 63 percent know that there are many products made from the scrap rubber collected from tires, their knowledge is mixed when asked what those products could be. While a majority (70 percent) know that scrap tires can be used to make playgrounds and sports fields, fewer are aware that they can also be used for construction materials, athletic mats, asphalt and livestock mats. Only 18 percent know that garden mulch can be made from scrap tires.
Although a majority of respondents (83 percent) agree that recycling old tires into new products helps to combat climate change, and 69 percent believe products made from recycled tires are of high quality, only 28 percent agreed that they have intentionally purchased a product made from recycled tires – a missed opportunity for Ontarians.
“More people could help combat climate change if they purchased recycled tire products after recognizing the high standards for recycling and knew more about the kind of products produced using recycled tires,” adds Meldrum.