Authorities sick and tyred of cleaning up

(Matt Palmer/Unsplash)

Environmental authorities are urging Victorian households and businesses, including those in Melton and Moorabool, to spare the environment and dispose of their used tyres legally and responsibly after more than 2700 car and truck tyres were found dumped on public land last year.

The Conservation Regulator and Parks Victoria recorded at least 60 separate illegal dumping incidents involving personal or commercial quantities of tyres across Victorian public land in 2023, with the State’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) estimating that thousands more have been dumped, burned, or stockpiled.

Dumped car tyres can have serious impacts on human and environmental health. Old tyres also contain harmful chemicals that leach into the environment and groundwater as they break down, potentially poisoning plants and animals.

Discarded tyres also present a serious fire risk, as tyre fires are harder to control or extinguish than regular fires. As rubber burns hotter and more easily, tyres dumped in forests can fuel bushfires with devastating effects.

Legal disposal of old tyres reduces these environmental and safety risks, and recycled tyres can often be turned into other products, including roads and artificial playground turf.

Individual or small quantities of tyres can be responsibly disposed of at recycling centres, such as local council transfer stations, for a small fee so that they can be repurposed. Most tyre outlets will also accept old tyres as part of government recycling schemes, either for free if people have purchased new tyres from their shop, or for a small fee if brought from elsewhere.

When disposing tyres through one of the above options, people should check with their local council, recycling facility, or individual tyre seller to see if they accept them.

Victorian businesses also have legal obligations for safely storing and transporting large amounts of waste tyres. EPA Victoria produces guidance on managing these responsibilities, which can be found at:

In Victoria, it is an offence to dump litter or waste under the Environment Protection Act 2017, with maximum penalties ranging between $3,846 and $230,772.

Conservation Regulator Victoria regulatory operations director David McIlroy said Illegally dumped rubber tyres can seriously risk the health of communities, environments, and native wildlife.

“Victorian individuals and businesses need to clean up their act. Our state forests are not a rubbish tip, and anyone caught treating them like one will be penalised,” he said.

Environmental Protection Authority Victoria West Metropolitan regional manager Steve Lansdell said waste tyre dumping is a very serious pollution issue, with Victorians generating more than 100,000 tonnes of waste tyres each year and only a small amount bring lawfully reused, recycled or recovered.

“Waste tyres contribute to increased fire risks and environmental harm risks and will not be tolerated. EPA will continue to step in to clean up major waste stockpiles in regional areas and will not hesitate to act if it sees communities are at risk,” he said.