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Manufacturers and Retailers Balance Tires and the Environment

Release Date: 08/29/2008
Contact Information: Latisha Petteway, (202) 564-4355 / petteway.latisha@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. - Aug. 29, 2008) Tire companies, big box stores, and the government are putting the brakes on the use of lead wheel weights. Through EPA's National Lead-Free Wheel Weight Initiative, partners have agreed to phase-in the use of lead-free alternative wheel weights and reduce the amount of lead released into the environment by 2011.

"Our partners have pledged to reduce or eliminate their use of lead wheel weights," said Susan Parker Bodine, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "Their efforts will remove millions of pounds of lead from the environment and the waste stream."

Eliminating lead wheel weights is a significant step toward reducing the overall amount of lead released into the environment. EPA estimates that 50 million pounds of lead per year are used for wheel weights in cars and light trucks. It is common for wheel weights to come off when a vehicle hits a pothole in the road or stops suddenly, which results in lead entering the environment. Lead-containing wheel weights also add lead into the environment as they move into the waste stream at the end of product life.

The charter members include Firestone Complete Auto Care; Firestone Racing (a division of Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire); Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.; Costco Wholesale; Wal-Mart Tire and Lube Express; Sam's Club Tire and Battery Centers; Wal-Mart Transportation; Hennessy Industries Inc.-BADA Division; Perfect Equipment; 3M Automotive Division; the U.S. Air Force; U.S. Postal Service; General Services Administration; Ford Motor Co.; General Motors Corp.; Chrysler; Plombco; the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers; the Town of Blacksburg, Virginia; the Ecology Center; Sierra Club; the Environmental Council of States and several small businesses.

Information about lead-free tire weights: epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/minimize/nlfwwi.htm