Until the state of Texas
changed the rules for tire recycling, Jerry Waller was only
interested in usable tires. He went to retread shops and
other tire generators and bought the used but still usable
tires. He left the rest behind for the companies that were
in the tire shredding business.
Waller said, “The
tire program is controlled by the state.” Before he
got into the tire shredding end of the business, the Texas
program paid the tire shredding companies about $80 per
ton for shredding tires. He said that the shredders were
making enough money that they didn’t need to worry
about resale. Waller saw a lot of good used tires get shredded
instead of being reclaimed.
About five years ago,
the plan changed so that the tire shredding companies are
no longer paid for shredding tires. Instead, the shredding
companies must make a profit by charging the tire generators
(including tire stores, businesses with large fleets, and
junkyards) for tire removal, while paying the landfills
for taking the material.
Companies that had been
making money from shredding alone had to change their business
model to make a profit. Waller said that several tire shredding
companies went out of business after the rules changed.
At the same time, places where he bought used tires started
asking him to take all of their tires.
It made sense to him,
so he got into the shredding business, while maintaining
the used tire business. Now, instead of paying for good
used tires, he charges a fee for taking whole loads of tires,
and sorts through them at his location. As a result, he
can charge less for taking the tires than the companies
that don’t reclaim usable tires.
Waller hauls and sorts
through four trailers loads of tires a day, and he’s
looking to expand the business. Recently, he purchased a
new shredder to get him ready to handle even more tires.
As for the usable tires,
he has customers on-site who buy tires in bulk, and he has
a retail operation for selling tires to individuals. He
said he was “raised in the tire business,” so
it’s natural that he’s selling tires now.
Not only does Waller want
to increase his volume, he’s looking at buying “reclamation
land” where he can dispose of the shredded tires rather
than taking them to landfills.
The state of Texas has
a program called Land Reclamation Projects Using Tires (LRPUT).
These, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental
Quality are “projects to fill, rehabilitate, improve
and/or restore already excavated, deteriorated or disturbed
Waller described the land
that he’s thinking about buying as “just a bunch
of holes” making it ideal for LRPUT reclamation. He
estimated that it would last him about 20 years, at which
point the land would be worth more than he paid for it,
and ready for development.
Waller said, “Most
people don’t realize how many scrap tires are generated
in a day – we’re a small company, and we pick
up four trailer loads a day.” And out of those four
trailer loads, Waller reclaims two to three trailer loads
of usable tires. “In my operation,” Waller said,
“we’re more geared toward the recovery side
He noted that things have
changed a lot since he was a kid, learning the business
from his uncle. “For one thing, tires last ten times
longer,” he said, explaining that tires used to last
12,000 miles, while now it’s not unusual for them
to last over 100,000 miles.
As for the future of tires,
Waller said, “You never know it all – you can
always learn something new.”