Latvian Television program 'Environmental facts' reports that soon, it is planned to advance a draft law in Saeima with more understandable rules and a system for handing over used tires free of charge to discourage illegal dumping.
The State Environmental Service (VVD) admitted that it often receives complaints via its "Environmental SOS" app about used tires being dumped in forests, or on roadsides.
"Environmental Facts" tried to estiate how many tires we throw away in Latvia per year. If approximately 750,000 vehicles undergo technical inspection in Latvia every year and one set of tires has to be changed once every three years, then every year we create approximately one million tires that would have to be recycled, it reasoned.
"In 2021, more than 20 thousand tonnes of tires were sold, new, through producer responsibility systems, but the problem is that not all tires are accounted for through producer responsibility systems, that is, maybe some tires are imported together with vehicles, and some are used, which does not reach the manufacturers' responsibility systems. Therefore, the actual volume of tires could be larger," explained Atis Treijs, director of the Waste Management Department of the State Environmental Service.
Of the 20 thousand tonnes that were sold, about 15 thousand tonnes are collected, which are sent to waste management companies through producer responsibility systems and further processed.
The remaining tires are exported, but some tires leave Latvia with the vehicle.
In the control campaign of the State Environmental Service car repair shops, it was found that every tenth car repair shop has significant stockpiles of tires, but 62% of car repair shops have not handed over tires to waste managers in the last year. One of the main conclusions is that free transfer options and the availability of waste managers would motivate the customer to accept and transfer used tires legally and in a more environmentally friendly manner.
But where and how is it most convenient to get rid of four used tires?
Rudīte Vesere, director of the Environmental Protection Department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM), stated that for a fee, used tires can be handed over at almost all separate waste collection points where tires are generally accepted, but in some places it is stipulated that four tires per year per household will be accepted free of charge.
"When you buy tires, at the point of sale or at the service station where you change tires, you need to pay attention to whether they are involved in the manufacturer's responsibility system and will therefore accept tires from you in exchange for new ones," said Vesere.
According to VARAM, the State Environmental Service explains that information can be found on the website www.skiroviegli.lv, where when you open the "Used tires" section, you will see all the sorting areas and places where used tires can be handed over.
Also on the website atkritumi.lv , information has been added about whether tires will be accepted for free and how much you will have to pay if necessary, but you have to be careful, because in several of these areas, four used tires during the year can be handed over free of charge only to residents of that specific municipality.
On average, the fee for handing in one tire ranges from 2 to 3.50 euros.
"It would be correct to hand over the used tires when you get the new ones - whether it is a shop, a car service, an exchange place. When you receive the new ones, it would be correct to leave the old tires there, but unfortunately in life this does not always happen," stated Jānis Aizbalts, chairman of the board of SIA "Eco Baltia vide".
According to him, some service centers do not accept tires at all, some require payment. "If the service center has not taken your used tires, then the best solution is to go to waste sorting areas. Here, you have to look at the season and the place - there are places where it takes place in the form of a promotion for free, in others it takes place all year round, but for a fee," emphasized Aizbalts.
The lack of a unified and easy to understand system is most likely the reason why some tires end up in forests, ditches or near household waste containers.
When collected with household waste, tires will be landfilled rather than recycled. Aizbalts believes that the essence of the problem lies in the regulatory acts, because not all tires in Latvia are regulated in such a way that the manufacturer has already paid the recycling fee for them.
There is hope that this situation will change, as changes to the law are currently being developed, which stipulate that, when buying or changing tires, it will be mandatory to accept used tires. "We are reviewing the entire system as a whole, and currently these principles are also being reviewed throughout the European Union – how tires are managed, what requirements are set in the producer responsibility system. We are also looking at how to develop the system so that it is really as simple and understandable as possible to hand over tires. We are moving towards the fact that tires will be accepted free of charge, because initially we will have already paid for them to be able to be handed over," explained VARAM representative Vesere.
During the next year, this regulation could be developed and forwarded to the Saeima for approval, but it seems unlikely that in a year's time, when it's the season to change tires again, things will be much different to the situation this season. For now, all that remains is to ask at different waste collection areas and service centers what their rules are for handing over your old tires.