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Tire Industry Finds New Opportunities for Scrap Tires

Washington, DC - For years, the only reason scrap tires were sent to landfills was for disposal. But under an emerging opportunity developed by the tire industry, instead of just taking up space, scrap tires may now serve a very useful purpose at landfills.

The Rubber Manufacturer Association's Scrap Tire Management Council (STMC) has developed technical materials for a workshop on tire shred applications for landfills. The STMC recently conducted the first workshop for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

"Landfill applications offer a tremendous market opportunity for the scrap tire industry, since these applications can consume very large amounts of scrap tire material. It can also assist municipal solid waste officials deal with one of their toughest issues, while providing both an engineering and cost benefit," stated RMA Vice President Michael Blumenthal.

Tire shreds can be used in five landfill applications; in cap closure, in gas venting systems, in leachate liners, as an operational liner material and as an alternative daily cover. When you consider that there are over 3000 landfills in the country, the opportunities are huge," Mr. Blumenthal added.

While there are significant opportunities, not every landfill will use tires shreds. There are a series of obstacles that must be addressed before we see any major increases in this market, he cautioned.

Mr. Blumenthal said that introducing this concept to the potential end use community would take time. State regulatory agencies will likely have to amend some regulations or issue some management guidelines to ease the permitting process. Other state agencies, particularly departments of health, will have to be convinced that tire use does not cause any secondary problems. Finally, since any of these applications can use up to several million scrap tires at one time, supply and on-site storage issues must be addressed as well.

Mr. Blumenthal said that he hopes that organizations representing the solid waste and landfill industry will incorporate the STMC training course with their own technical training programs. Additionally, the STMC will make this training program part of its regional scrap tire management conferences.

Krys Jesonick, Senior Engineer from Geosysntech Corporation on Walnut Creek, California developed the course work for the STMC workshop. The technical material was developed under contract for the California Integrated Waste Management Board. Additionally, the course offers material developed from the STMC sponsored the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) Guidelines for the Use of Scrap Tire in Civil Engineering Applications and leachate studies performed by Dr. Dana Humphrey from the University of Maine.

The use of scrap tires in civil engineering applications is one of the fastest growing uses for scrap tires. Since 1994, the number of tires consumed in this market sector has risen from less than one million to more than 30 million by 2000. During this period, the STMC has sponsored 27 technical workshops on the use of scrap tires in civil engineering applications.

To date, scrap tires have been used in over 120 different applications across the United States. Of nearly 280 million scrap tires generated annually, about 71 percent are consumed in various market applications, a greater percentage than many other recycled materials.

Over the past five years, scrap tires have been used in more than 30 states, and have been used in lieu of conventional road construction materials and in projects ranging from lightweight backfill to aggregate in septic field drain pads. STMC projects that civil engineering applications could be consuming in excess of 50 million scrap tires a year by 2003.

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