Hawke's Bay tyre fitters are paying to send up to 200 old tyres a week to Asia for recycling but a new Government initiative has raised hopes of finding a better way of dealing with them - and reducing the amount dumped in local rivers.
Mag and Tyre Warehouse Hastings owner Tony Kelly said he was usually dealing with 150 to 200 old tyres every week but while his business factored overseas tyre recycler costs into the customer's overall tyre bill, that was not the case for all retailers.
"It does cost for them to pick them up and ship them overseas. Basically, a couple hundred tyres every week get picked up from here and for most other retailers it's probably at least 100 tyres."
While there was some good work being done in New Zealand, with cement companies breaking down tyres to use them in roading materials, most tyres had to be recycled or broken down in China and India.
"You can't actually dispose of them without going to tyre retailer really. You can't dump them - hence the reason why you see them on the side of the road or dumped in rivers.
"It's not really a problem getting rid of them. I think it's because the council don't have an avenue where they can help people. They can't be dumped so people come to us or they do what they want with them.
"They can be dealt with but it comes with a cost - not a big cost but I suppose it's a question of people being lazy."
However, because some tyre fitters charged extra for disposal costs, some vehicle owners were not always willing to pay that extra charge.
Kelly said some central government leadership was needed.
"It is quite a big problem in New Zealand and I think it's something that probably needs some government assistance. To be fair the retailers are the end user and our suppliers are also part of the 'tyre accord programme' they are working with government."
A Hastings District Council spokeswoman said the vast majority of used tyres in Hawke's Bay were dealt with by the tyre companies without council involvement.
"The Omarunui Landfill and the Henderson Rd Refuse Transfer Station don't accept tyres from the public or any tyre businesses. The landfill will only accept tyres under special conditions and it requires specific approval.
"The few tyres that enter the landfill tend to come from the clean-up of illegally dumped rubbish and those tyres that have managed to get into the transfer station. At the landfill tyres are currently stockpiled away from the general rubbish until they can be dealt with in the best possible way.
"The Omarunui Landfill has built up a financial reserve to deal with the tyres that are stockpiled at the site. This is to ensure that there are funds available to have the tyres either shredded and put into the landfill (not a preferred option) or transported to one of the government-supported disposal operations that are being developed.
"The reserve is funded by a $1 per tonne charge that is built into the gate fee for waste entering the landfill."
Following the Green Party's 2018 Annual Conference, Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage this week announced a work programme approved by Cabinet to tackle waste by looking at options to better manage waste going into landfills, how to improve gathering of data on waste and options to expand product stewardship schemes to include tyres to better manage their disposal.
Local Government New Zealand president Dave Cull said there was overwhelming support for remit at the LGNZ's annual meeting last month that called for a mandatory product stewardship programme for tyres.
"We're extremely pleased to see the Government has prioritised these actions among its waste work programme to both minimise and manage waste."
A Hawke's Bay Regional Council spokeswoman says the council was trying to help by using longer wear tyres on its vehicle fleet to ensure it replaced tyres less frequently.