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Mountain of used tires a recycling challenge.

Ontario's dependency on the automobile has created a large environmental challenge with an estimated 10 million used tires strewn around disposal sites across the province.

Since the disastrous fire at a disposal site in Hagersville, Ont., landfills have begun charging for disposal in an attempt to limit the number of tires at their sites.

Adding to the challenge is the steady increase of cars and motorists travelling the roadways.

As old tires wear out motorists need new ones, but tires are not biodegradable, and they continue to accumulate in staggering numbers.

Ontario's Ministry of the Environment is currently examining alternative uses for used tires. Most of these initiatives involve recycling.

Bruce Wilson, tire market specialist with the ministry, says recycling efforts account for 1.4 million tires being reused, and retreading of tires reuses another 1.5 million.

Wilson says recycling efforts remove about 40 per cent of the tires from landfill sites, and the government is hoping to reach 60 per cent next year.

In attempts to increase the recycling of tires, Ontario is currently funding 10 projects that will use rubber from tires in making asphalt for roads.

Alex Hogan is a consultant with Resource Integrated Systems which was hired by the Northeastern Ontario Recycling Committee to examine recycling opportunities within the region. Hogan says there are many uses for tires, adding there are many opportunities for the private sector.

Hogan identified a number of opportunities for recycling of used tires, including filling tires with polystyrene foam to be used as docks, tire treads linked together for bush roads, chipping rubber from tires to be used for soil amendment (useful in re-greening mine tailing areas) and chipping of tires or tire matting for children's playgrounds.

"These are just ideas. They are not recommendations as in-depth feasibility studies would be required before implementation," Hogan stresses.

However, the private sector has not been slow in recognizing that there are opportunities with regard to the vast supply of tires.

Don Tremblay of Sault Ste. Marie is the owner-manager of Matman, a small company producing rubber mats from scrapped tires.

Matman produces a line of standard exterior doormats, the modern version of old-style chain link mats. The mats consist of long strips of rubber instead of small linked segments.

With more than 80 stores in Canada selling his product, Tremblay has a firm place in the market.

However, Tremblay is finding that his traditional source of discarded tires is beginning to dry up.

Only the treads of bias-ply tires can go into mats. Steel-belted radials are not suitable for the process. Tremblay has an agreement with the city of Sault Ste. Marie to collect all tires from the city landfill each week and he scours local tire shops.

But with the increasing popularity of steel belted-tires, Tremblay has had to import tires from outside the province, principally from the United States.

"I tried to expand (tire collection from landfill sites) to other municipalities, but it just wasn't economical. So we are getting bias-ply tires and shipping steel-belted ones back to the States," he explains.

One form of reuse for radials is to grind the tires into asphalt, and the steel belt is removed magnetically. The government has helped set up a number of companies using this recovery technology.

However, Tremblay points out that the $400,000 cost for the technology is simply too great, adding that he doubts anyone in Northern Ontario would get involved in it.
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Title Annotation:Report on Transportation & Travel; Ontario's initiatives to recycle used tires
Author:Brown, Stewart
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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