Strong Progress Seen in Scrap Tire Recycling Efforts

Washington, DC - Ten years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said over three billion scrap tires were strewn across the nation, posing a variety of environmental, health and safety hazards.

Today that number is around 300 million and every year, 70 percent of discarded tires are sent to market, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association's (RMA) Scrap Tire Management Council.

"The past decade has produced an environmental success story with scrap tires," said John Serumgard, RMA executive vice president. "Our challenge now is to continue our progress toward sound markets and management for 100 percent of scrap tires at a time when many states see their tire disposal efforts as successful and want to put resources to other uses."

Serumgard added that while the EPA estimate of scrap tires was never accurate- the likely fixture was closer to one billion- the results of scrap tire disposal programs are still extraordinary. The rate of scrap tires sent to market is higher than several better known commodities such as paper (62.5 percent); glass (50 percent) or aluminum cans (35 percent).

With the generation of approximately 270 million scrap tires annually in the U.S., scrap tire management remains a major economic and environmental issue. While the number of srap tires is large, it still constitutes only about 1.8 percent of total solid wastes generated in the nation.

In recent years, stepped up efforts to use scrap tires have led to innovations. Scrap tires are used as a fuel source for cement kilns; mixed with asphalt for road construction; ground into fine particles for safe playground surfaces; used as leachate lines in landfills and also incorporated into new tires.

"The most dynamic market for scrap tires in civil engineering applications such as septic system drain field and road construction," said Michael Blumenthal, RMA vice president. "Scrap tires are a cost competitive alternative to stone, plus they weigh less and are easier to handle.

While no federal laws regulate scrap tire disposal, 48 states have enacted laws or regulations to deal with scrap tires. Common features of these programs include but are not limited to: licensing or registration requirements for scrap tire transporters, processors and some end users; manifests for scrap tire shipments; limitations on who may handle scrap tires; financial assistance requirements for scrap tire handlers and market development activities.

"RMA's Scrap Tire Management Council will continue to work with state and federal officials to identify markets and methods for the improved management and development of markets for scrap tires," said Mr. Serumgard. "A great deal of progress has been made but we still have more to do."


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