OKLAHOMA CITY—Getting demand to catch up to supply is exactly what one Oklahoma lawmaker would like to see as far as recycled tires are concerned. A comprehensive tire recycling project exists in Oklahoma, but not enough people are taking advantage of the crumb rubber it produces, said state Sen. Carol Martin, R-Comanche.
"A lot of people don't know how durable crumb rubber is," Martin said. "It can last practically forever."
Toward the end of the Oklahoma lawmaking session, Martin authored Senate Resolution 61, which urges private businesses, state agencies and others to use products made from recycled waste tires.
The resolution is nonbinding. "This is something I would like school boards to think about when they're considering their next playground," Martin said. "I'm astounded when I see a playground with small rocks as ground cover. Crumb rubber is a much safer surface than rocks or sand."
Martin took action in response to complaints to her office. "People have seen large piles of tires, and they know about the recycling fee," she said.
Oklahoma charges a $1 fee per tire sold, said Brad Flaming of the state Department of Environmental Quality. Truck tires are $3.50, Flaming said. That money is set aside by the Oklahoma Tax Commission for the Waste Tire Indemnity Fund, he said.
The fund aids businesses that recycle tires. Waste tire facilities that meet the guidelines of their permit and requirements of the Waste Tire Recycling Act are paid monthly on the amount of processed material they produce. "Those businesses get $53.48 per ton of processed tire material and are eligible for an additional $37.43 per ton if they collect tires on a statewide basis," Flaming said.
One of the businesses that recycles is in Martin's district. "The Four D Corp. in Duncan turns old tires into crumb rubber," Martin said. "In terms of greater safety for children using playgrounds in schools and parks, and the positive impact on the quality of our environment, I'd like to see more companies and individuals utilizing these products."
Martin's resolution, receiving Senate approval, was reviewed by several state agencies including transportation, education and tourism. "Hopefully, the state agencies will help us get the word out that this is a good thing to do for Oklahoma," Martin said.
In touting the plan, she also is using a recent study by the National Conference of State Legislatures titled "Developing Recycling Markets to Boost Economic Development." The study highlights economic advantages gained when recycling and market development are encouraged, Martin said.
Nationally, about 275 million tires are thrown away annually, Martin said. "The problem is tire recycling companies can only take in as many tires as they send out in the form of recycled products," Martin said. "Recycling tires just makes sense."