The future of scrap tires may be up in smoke. That's the message John Serumgard, chairman of the Scrap Tire Management Council, passed to 175 attendees at Scrap Tire '96, held Aug. 15-17 in Chicago. ``The scrap tire industry is not yet a mature industry-we have a lot of growing pains yet,'' Serumgard said. ``But since 1990, the scrap tire industry has made tremendous strides.''
About 250 million scrap tires are produced a year, and recycling currently stands at 70 percent-up from 11 percent in 1990. A majority of that growth, according to Serumgard, has been in the tire-derived fuel category.
TDF accounted for 130 million of the 170 million scrap tires used in 1995. Cement kilns and utilities are the two biggest users.
``More than 80 facilities are using TDF and 34 states have issued permits,'' Serumgard said. ``We think there is a lot of life left in TDF.''
Thirty-three cement kilns use TDF, up from two in 1990. The biggest reason behind the increase is public awareness.
``We have a massive regulatory program to protect the environment,'' he said. ``This program is of vital importance to anyone who wants to burn fuel. It's a federal-state partnership.''
The Environmental Protection Agency has worked with the scrap tire industry to use discarded tire chips as fuel, Serumgard said.
The biggest problem in scrap tires is zinc oxide, which Serumgard said is a threat to aquatic life but not humans.
``Zinc compounds must be reported on Toxic Release Inventory reports'' he said. ``And that can mean adverse publicity.''
There is technology that allows plants to isolate their fly ash, which contains the zinc, and ship it to a smelter for recycling, Serumgard said.
TDF is a viable way to turn a problem into a solution, he said.
``TDF is a fuel, not a waste,'' he said. ``It is not perfect, it is not without emissions. But neither is any other fuel.''