Maryland Environmental Services has had its scrap tire processing facility up and running since January, and customers are happy with the products it provides, according to the plant's marketing manager.
But the owner of the state's largest private scrap tire processor, Emanuel Tire Co., finds the rival facility is cutting into his business as expected. Still, he said he's putting those concerns behind him.
Now operating in the Baltimore suburb of Halethorpe, the MES crumb rubber plant cost about $6 million to build. Although the MES is a Maryland state agency that operates as a not-for-profit environmental management corporation, all the funding for the project was private, agency spokesmen said at the time of construction.
The 100,000-sq.-ft plant has 40,000 square feet of production space, with the rest devoted to packaging, storage and workshop maintenance. Its annual capacity is about 25 million pounds of crumb, said Marketing Manager Tait Saderholm, but that figure probably will rise slightly over the next several months.
``We're altering some of the equipment to get a better throughput,'' Saderholm said. ``I guess you could say we're tweaking production.''
The MES offers five different varieties of crumb, according to the Rubber Room, a Web site for rubber material and product sales. These range from 5 to 40 mesh, both black granule (from heavy truck tires) and white granule (from passenger and light truck tires), and their uses include pour-in-place paths and tracks, sports fields, rubberized asphalt and molded rubber goods.
``People who try us are generally pleased with the quality of the product,'' Saderholm said. ``As with anything, everyone in this industry is wary of newcomers, but that's to be expected.''
At the time the project was announced, there was concern in Maryland and elsewhere that a scrap tire facility run by a not-for-profit state agency would hurt competition in the industry. Those concerns haven't been assuaged now that the MES plant is operational, according to Norman Emanuel, president of Emanuel Tire in Baltimore.
``They probably took about a million of my tires away'' from an operation that grinds about 5 million tires annually, Emanuel said. He is skeptical of the claim that the MES plant is entirely publicly funded.
Nevertheless, Emanuel said he no longer worries about competition from the MES. He said he provides some services it doesn't, such as processing earthmover tires.
``If people need a product, I can make it,'' he said. ``What I do is what I do, and I'll be on top with it.''
Emanuel Tire's Web site lists a wide variety of recycled rubber products available for sale, including crumb rubber, rubber for civil engineering, tire-derived fuel and rubber for septic systems, highway sound barriers, horse arenas and playgrounds.