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New Law Hopes To Break Border Tire Cycle

Above: Volunteers clean up tire debris in the Tijuana River Valley. New legislation has been passed to curb the influx of recycled tires from Mexico.

Audio

Aired 10/13/09

A new law will allow California to help fund recycling and reuse programs for discarded tires in Mexico. California ships millions of discarded tires to Mexico annually, thousands of which flow back across the border as litter to San Diego.

A new law will allow California to help fund recycling and reuse programs for discarded tires in Mexico. California ships millions of discarded tires to Mexico annually, thousands of which flow back across the border as litter to San Diego.

California's Integrated Waste Management Board sends millions of tires to Mexico every year to keep them out of California landfills. Many drivers in Mexico wring more road life out of the old tires before finally throwing them out. People also use the discarded tires to build structures like retaining walls and staircases. Come rainy season, thousands of those tires wash back into California.

Ben McCue is with the conservation group Wildcoast, which sponsored the bill. He said its aim is not to stop old tires from being exported to Mexico or used for building projects. "But knowing that market exists and the export will continue, how can we deal with the downstream impacts," he said.

California's tire fund balance is approximately $40 million. McCue suggests some of the money could go towards projects like teaching people to build tire walls that don't wash away and making old tires into pavement.

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