SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's waste tire program needs improvement in fund utilization, tracking, outreach and oversight, according to an audit performed by Utah's Office of the Legislative Auditor General.
Approved by the Utah legislature in 1990, the Utah waste tire program is funded by a fee of $1 on each new tire sold in the state.
From fiscal years 1991 to 2017, the program recycled more than 711,000 tons of scrap tires, equivalent to more than 46 million units, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ).
However, there are considerable gaps between the program's goals and its performance, according to the audit dated January 2019.
In fiscal 2018, Utah's Waste Tire Recycling Fund had a balance of $4.6 million, the highest in its history, the audit said.
"(But) despite the act fostering a strong state waste-tire recycling industry, a gap exists where consumers, over the last two years, generated more waste tires than recyclers collected for processing," it said. "We believe the legislative intent to promote tire-pile cleanup at landfills and in abandoned piles has not been fully realized."
The auditors recommended that the legislature could consider expanding the use of fund money to help cities and counties that are unable to afford proper waste-tire management.
The auditors also recommended that the Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control make various changes to the scrap tire program, including:
- Establishing a manifest system or other tracking system to control the transportation of waste tires to recyclers better;
- Educating landfill operators more completely on how to qualify for and use authorized funding; and
- Adopting metrics that better measure program impact and effectiveness.
The auditors found instances of burying whole tires with other types of solid waste or under dirt cover, and one instance of a waste site cleanup project where the program managers used an unregistered recycler and an unregistered hauler. They advised stronger oversight of the program.
"We believe that the division's implementation of these recommendations is especially timely, since the legislature will shortly consider whether to renew the program, which is scheduled to sunset in 2020," the auditors said.
Rusty Lindberg, acting director of the Division of Waste Management, sent a Jan. 22 reply to the Office of the Legislature Auditor General, saying his division is evaluating the auditors' recommendations and will implement applicable changes to the waste-tire program.