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Report shows 80% of waste tires are not wasted, stockpiles dwindling.

Expanding markets now consume four out of five scrap tires, according to a report by the Rubber Manufacturers Association. In addition, stockpiled scrap tires have been reduced by nearly 75% since 1990.

The report shows that 80%, or about 233 million of the 290 million scrap tires generated in 2003, went to an end use market, compared to just 11% in 1990. Scrap tires are being used in areas such as civil engineering, products made from ground rubber and tire-derived fuel (TDF).

"Tire manufacturers have taken the initiative to promote environmentally and economically sound solutions to reduce scrap tire waste," said Michael Blumenthal, RMA senior technical director. "RMA has worked to enact state scrap tire cleanup laws and regulations, and to help develop markets that create new uses for scrap tires."

Ground rubber reuse is one of the largest markets for scrap tires, consuming more than 28 million tires in 2003. One of the fastest growing markets for ground rubber is its application in athletic and recreational surfaces. Rubber-modified asphalt is another market that uses ground rubber to produce more durable roads. Ground rubber also is used in carpet underlay, flooring material, dock bumpers and railroad crossing blocks.

The report also shows a 41% growth in the use of tire shreds in civil engineering since 2001. Civil engineering projects include road and landfill construction, septic tank leach fields and other construction applications. Tires add positive properties in these applications, such as vibration and sound control, lightweight alternatives to prevent erosion and landslides, and drainage in leachate systems.

"Civil engineering markets are continuing to gain wider approval with annual usage increasing from 56.4 million tires, compared to 40 million in 2001," Blumenthal said. "California, Delaware, Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey and Virginia are all using or planning tire shred projects in their states."

Tire derived fuel is the leading use of scrap tires, especially as a supplemental fuel for electricity and pulp and paper. TDF use has increased almost 12% to nearly 130 million scrap tires since 2001.

In addition to using more annually generated scrap tires in new applications, cleanup efforts of stockpiled scrap tires continues. Since 1990, the number of scrap tires in stockpiles has been reduced by 73%. Of the remaining stockpiles, 91% are concentrated in 11 states: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.

Scrap tire management efforts are gaining more attention from government officials. In late 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Resource Conservation Challenge (RCC) with a mission to conserve national resources, a main goal of scrap tire management.

"The RCC's goal is 85% for scrap tires reused and a 55% reduction in stockpiles by 2008 from the 2001 baseline of 300 million stockpiled tires. We think that both of these targets are achievable, but the stockpile goal will be dependent on several states initiating an abatement program," Blumenthal said.

Despite major accomplishments, challenges remain with regard to scrap tire reduction efforts. Several financially strapped states shifted fees dedicated to scrap tire programs to general funds.

"Effective scrap tire programs need dedicated resources to ensure continued improvement in cleaning up stockpiles," Blumenthal said.

The U.S. Scrap Tire Markets report is the seventh biennial report researched and published by the RMA. The report shows the status, progress and challenges of the U.S. scrap tire industry. The information is obtained through a questionnaire sent to all state scrap tire regulators, as well as extensive telephone surveys.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include more than 100 companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.
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Title Annotation:Perspectives
Publication:Rubber World
Date:Jun 22, 2004
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