The Senate Monday approved a bill requiring the tire industry to figure out how to prevent tires from being illegally dumped instead of recycled. 

State Sen. Rick Lopes
State Sen. Rick Lopes (D-Berlin, Farmington, New Britain), Senate Deputy Majority Leader in 2023. Credit: CT Senate Democrats / via Flickr / ALL RIGHTS RESERVED / Click for license info

The bill, which garnered a 33-3 vote, previously cleared the House of Representatives, and it now heads to Gov. Ned Lamont. 

If signed into law, producers and other companies in the industry would need to create a stewardship to oversee the disposal of used tires. That stewardship would need to submit a plan to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection by Jan. 1, 2025 for approval. 

Cities and towns have complained that some haulers are illegally dumping used tires along the roadside instead of bringing them to a facility for proper disposal. 

That can include burning them for energy — no such facility operates in Connecticut — turning the tires into crumb rubber or other uses. 

Sen. Rick Lopes, D-New Britain, co-chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, said the bill “has the effect of telling the industry, the members of the industry …, that they need to get together and come up with a plan among themselves” to address the problem of discarded” tires. 

Under existing law, retailers currently charge customers $5 per tire for disposal. Those retailers then give haulers the money to transport the tires to a facility. 

Haulers are supposed to use that money to pay for transportation and any fees to dispose of the tires, but some are dumping them. 

“We proved over the last couple of decades that this program does not work properly,” Lopes said. “It has flaws.” 

Lopes said the stewardship would also need an accounting process to ensure haulers have every tire they’ve been paid to transport. He said stewardship programs for mattresses, electronics and other items that are hard to recycle. 

Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, questioned why the legislature didn’t try to fix the existing law before tasking the industry with solving the problem. 

“I don’t think this is a place where the government belongs except for answering the key questions of if we have dumped tires, how do we get rid of them and how do we prevent people from dumping them in the future,” he said. “To me, that’s the — those are the questions.”

Sampson was on the three no votes. 

Even some Republicans who supported the bill expressed concerns. Sen. Stephen Harding, R-Brookfield, expressed concern that the stewardship could raise the fee. 

“It is becoming more and more unaffordable every day, not only in this state but across the country, and middle class families across the state struggle to pay for some critical, critical cost,” he said. 

The bill would also require the Department of Transportation to start a pilot program testing the use of asphalt made from used tires. The department has to submit a report to the legislature’s Environmental Committee on whether the asphalt is effective and suitable for Connecticut’s roads.