Several States Consider Scrap Tire Legislation in 2002

Washington, DC - Scrap tire issues were active in several state legislatures in the first half of 2002, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). The trade group has been busy this year in efforts to encourage states to incorporate or maintain strong scrap tire management programs.

RMA claimed a victory for scrap tire cleanup in Hawaii by forging a legislative compromise that continues the state scrap tire program until 2006. Under the compromise, if the state scrap tire fund exceeded $3 million, the scrap tire fee would be eliminated. Without this legislation, Hawaii's scrap tire program would have been forced to end this year.

"Hawaii's program has had a great deal of success in eliminating scrap tire piles but many more remain, including a sizable one outside of Honolulu," said John Falardeau, RMA state legislative manager. "By extending the program we can help ensure that those piles will be appropriately addressed."

In Maryland, RMA was instrumental in helping to defeat a Senate bill to increase the fee assessed on all newly purchased tires from $0.40 to $1.00. The fee, originally $1.00 per tire when the scrap tire law was enacted in 1992, was reduced to $0.40 in 2000.

The proposed additional $0.60 per tire would have been used to create a central scrap tire collection, processing and recycling facility. RMA believes that state resources are better served by encouraging end markets for scrap tires rather than by becoming a scrap tire processor.

"Creating such a facility is a bad idea," Mr. Falardeau said. "A state-run facility would compete with existing private businesses to create a glut of processed scrap tires and artificially lower prices, which would discourage end markets for scrap tires. Instead, the state would be better served to help stimulate market development efforts to find products and uses for scrap tires."

In Florida, RMA has been working with Recycle Florida Today (RFT), a professional association of the recycling industry that seeks to educate the public and policy makers about the economic significance of recycling. RMA has been helping RFT's efforts to secure more funding for scrap tire clean up projects in Florida.

"We have been working diligently with other organizations such as Recycle Florida Today as well with state executive and legislative branch leaders to retain nearly $3 million in proposed funding for scrap tire programs," said Michael Blumenthal, RMA senior technical director. "This funding is important to the continued operation of the state's scrap tire cleanup efforts."

In New York, which ranks second behind Texas in the number of used tire piles, RMA has been working with state legislative and executive branch officials in an effort to convince the state to implement a scrap tire management program. A tire pile fire earlier this year near Albany, NY, the state capital, gave the issue more prominence.

As the legislative session surges toward its final days, RMA believes that a scrap tire management program may be created either through legislation or an administrative directive. The legislative session is expected to conclude this summer.

"New York has been and continues to be a top priority for RMA to establish a well-managed and properly funded scrap tire management program," Mr. Blumenthal said. "We remain hopeful that state legislative leaders and Governor George Pataki's administration will reach a consensus view and finally enact a long-overdue program."

In Oklahoma, RMA opposed legislation to mandate Oklahoma-based tire dealers to participate in the state's scrap tire program. Currently, participation is optional and dealers could contract with out-of-state haulers to take away used tires. By opting out, dealers had more opportunities to dispose of scrap tires, with many going to out-of-state recycling facilities.

"Oklahoma has basically closed its borders and eliminated the free market process for the disposal of scrap tires," said Falardeau.

The mandatory participation legislation was passed by the Legislature and was signed into law by Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating. RMA and other tire industry groups expect to make the reversing of this legislation an important initiative in 2003.