The National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) claims fleets have fought against any surcharge for the green recycling of tyres, despite sharp increases in the cost of tyre disposal.
Landfill is the cheapest disposal route for old tyres, and currently accounts for about 100,000 tonnes of used tyres in the UK annually, but a European Directive will outlaw the disposal of whole tyres in landfill sites by 2003, and the disposal of shredded tyres in landfill by 2006.
This leaves fast-fit garages and tyre distributors facing real costs to ensure the responsible disposal of the 50 million used tyres generated every year in the UK – of which only 68% are currently recycled.
Richard Edy, director of the NTDA, said it costs about £1 to recycle a car tyre in an environmentally-friendly fashion, and he has advised NTDA members to include this fee as a separately itemised sum on tyre invoices.
'The main problem we have relates to fleets because they tend to be resistant to pay anything towards the responsible disposal of tyres and we find this totally irresponsible. Fleet operators are driven more by saving money than taking environmental responsibility.'
However, at ATS Euromaster Mike Kemp, sales director, light vehicle business unit, said fleets were now starting to appreciate the real cost involved in recycling used tyres and were consequently accepting the disposal charges.
'Scrap tyres used to have some value, but now they represent a real disposal cost,' he said. 'There is now a far more understanding attitude among fleets towards this cost and broadly they are accepting the charges.
'Quite rightly, fleets want to control their costs and they are questioning the disposal charge with us and other fast-fits to check the efficiency of the recycling route and to make sure we are not profiteering from it. But to say fleets are fighting the disposal charge is incorrect.'
THE Environment Agency has warned that stiff penalties await any business or fleet that fails to ensure the environmental disposal of used tyres.
The agency says: 'Anyone who produces or imports, keeps or stores, transports, treats, recycles or disposes of tyres has a duty of care under the Environment Protection Act.
'If you produce waste tyres you have a legal and social responsibility for their disposal.'
This requires businesses to make sure that:
Environment Agency chairman Sir John Harman said 50 million tyres a year are discarded, or 134,000 a day. The biggest tyre dump in Britain is at Heyope, in Powys, Wales. This holds nine million and for 11 years there has been an intense fire deep inside the dump because no one has been able to put it out.