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Pilot programs help cities find secondary old tire markets.

Municipalities throughout the country facing the dilemma of finding alternative methods of waste tire disposal may benefit from pilot projects and tire recycling programs being undertaken by other local governments.

City and county governments have recognized that electric power, tire derived fuel (TDF), and road resurfacing projects are among the fastest growing markets for scrap tires. Newark, N.J. and North Hempstead, N.Y. contract directly with recyclers who shred tires for TDF and road resurfacing projects.

In Salt Lake City-County, Utah, the Health Department administers a program which reimburses rubber recyclers who produce road repaving material from crumb rubber. The funds are collected at the state level, through a surcharge on new tire purchases, but the process of verifying that the tires were disposed in Utah, and other validation functions are carried out at the local level.

Similarly, in Phoenix, Arizona and surrounding counties, a portion of the funds raised at the state level are being allotted for a contract with a rubber recycler to produce crumb rubber for asphalt road resurfacing projects. This approach is different from Salt Lake City-County because "prepaid tire disposal sites" are set up within the state to provide centralized locations where the recycler obtains the scrap tires.

Rural counties in Arizona are planning contracts with owners of cement kilns to produce tire derived fuel (TDF) as an alternative to coal in their cement plants. The programs in Arizona closely parallel the models advocated by the National Tire Dealers and Retreaders Assocation, which has extensively studied recycling alternatives to waste tire disposal.

Another use for scrap tires is tire-to-energy conversion. In Westley, California and Sterling, Connecticut, the Oxford Energy Company operates tire burning plants which produce electricity for more than 15,000 homes in Stanislaus County, California and a projected 30,000 homes in Connecticut. In both cases, State and Federal agencies, as well as environmentalists continue sampling of water, air and soil in the area for potentially harmful effects from emissions.

Many critical factors affecting the implementation of a tire recycling program have been examined by local, state, and federal governments. Issues such as sources of funding, identifying government's role in the program, and determining which rubber processing technique will be most cost effective, have led to diverse solutions.

Funding sources that can be trapped for tire recycling programs or research include a state surcharge on new tire sales or motor vehicle registrations. Depending on the volume of tire purchases or car registrations, states have collected in excess of two million dollars annually to initiate tire recycling programs.

Valuable incentives

These funds are also valuable incentives for processors to bid on tire recycling contracts.

While many jurisdictions still debate the economies of asphalt rubber versus conventional asphalt in road surfacing projects, results from completed pilots support the use of rubberized asphalt for its longer durability and higher skid resistance.

However, due to the relatively small quantities of rubber used in these pilot projects, production costs of asphalt rubber are higher than conventional asphalt projects. This factor must be taken into consideration in cost versus benefits analysis. Also, quantity discounts are usually offered in long-term high volume contracts.

The benefit of implementing a more environmentally sound method of waste tire management must also be considered.

In response to the health and environmental problems stemming from disposal of over 250 million tires annually in the U.S., legislation banning tire disposal in landfills and stricter regulation of tire stockpiles are taking effect in many states.

A clear need for more effective waste tire management is evident, yet the lack of accessible tire disposal sites have given rise to significant increases in illegal dumping. A direct consequence of illegal dumping is an interruption in the flow of tires necessary for rubber processors and recycling businesses.

'Prepaid tire disposal sites'

The National Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association advocates "prepaid tire disposal sites" where recyclers are assured the steady volume of tires, such as Phoenix has established. These sites and other incentives, like government contracts may provide the necessary boost to this industry. Currently, rubber processors and entrepreneurs, who must have a constant, centralized source of tires to fulfill their production commitments, have been reluctant to diversify into tire recycling contracts.

NLC's Municipal Reference Service has ordinances and articles on these programs, and other information on tire recycling alternatives.

The staff would also like to receive studies or programs from your local government to share with other municipalities. Send your information or request a Tire Recycling Resource Packet by writing NLC; Municipal Reference Service; 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.; Washington, D.C., 20004 or call (202) 626-3130.
COPYRIGHT 1991 National League of Cities
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Stewart, Florence K.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 25, 1991
Words:769
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