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November 2006

A Closer Look E-mail the author

TireTex Inc.
Jerry Waller

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 land.”

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 of it.”

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.”

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