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BBC Documentary Uncovers Extent of Waste Tyre Crime
Waste Management World, 16th July 2012

Criminal gangs in the UK are dumping are harming legitimate tyre recycling operations by smuggling millions of end-of-life tyres into Asia and illegally dumping many more, according to a recent report in The Telegraph.

Motorists having new tyres fitted to their vehicle usually pay the garage a fee of between one and two pounds to have a tyre properly recycled by a third party.

However, the paper said that many legitimate recycling firms are facing closure or making redundancies because of a shortage of tyres.

Furthermore, an investigation by the BBC's Panorama shows how criminals have been offering cheaper disposal rates, opening the windows for shady garage operators to boost profits.

According to the BBC, in Yorkshire one illegal dump contained 300,000 tyres and in Hampshire last year, more than 2 million tyres were abandoned.

The programme which airs tonight, will show how Amy and Steven Marlow, who ran a recycling scam in North Wales, dumped tens of thousands of tyres in a warehouse before fleeing to Majorca with approximately £15,000 in profits.

Andy Higham, of the Environment Agency, told the programme: "We're talking about serious and organised criminals. These aren't people that just dump a few tyres. We're talking about major, major money that can actually be made from this type of illegal activity."

Exporting the problem

The UK does allow tyres to be exported for use as a fuel - but only to countries that place environmental controls on factory emissions, such as Malaysia and South Korea.

But the programme found evidence that tyres sold for export are being smuggled in their millions into Vietnam and China via Malaysia and other approved countries.

The BBC said that demand is growing and UK tyre recycling firms are now experiencing a shortage of supply as they are being undercut by firms from Asia that are keen to buy used tyres by the millions.