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'Used tyres dangerous'

Published:Wednesday | March 2, 2011 | 12:00 AM

The debate about the importation of used tyres, which is now occupying the minds of some Jamaicans, has been ongoing around the world for years.

The fact is that countries in North America and Europe have billions of used tyres that they want to get rid of, and one way of doing that is by selling them cheap to developing countries.

In 2006, the European Union reported Brazil to the World Trade Organisation after that country banned the importation of used tyres.

"Nobody knows the source and history of these used tyres," one local tyre dealer told The Gleaner, on condition that his name be withheld.

Corrosion threat increases

He pointed to literature that shows that, as tyres age, the rubber components become harder and less elastic and the potential for corrosion and oxidation of the internal steel belts increases, even though there may be no external evidence of such deterioration.

"For consumers, used tyres can generate unseen safety hazards, even if tyres have legal tread depth and appear usable.

"An examination of the used-tyre business reveals some unsafe practices and a business that often starts in a scrap heap," argued United States-based entity, Safety Research & Strategies.

"While many used tyres are purchased because of tight budgets, consumers across socio-economic strata are lured by one thing: the appearance of a bargain.

"What they don't bargain for is the lack of safeguards that allows potentially unsafe used tyres to make their way back into the market," the group added in a 2007 report.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association has also released a Tyre Information Service Bulletin warning of the dangers of used tyres, while Bridgestone, a world leader in tyre manufacturing, has instructed its dealers to stop selling used tyres.

"What they don't bargain for is the lack of safeguards that allows

potentially unsafe used tyres to make their way back into the market."