I just love how politics works. OK, I'm being facetious.
What brings this to mind is the politically motivated action that brought an odd scrap tire bill close to being adopted in Vermont.
Ever been to Vermont? I have, a number of times. Beautiful country, full of trees and mountains, a land of green. White in the winter, of course. One thing it does lack is scrap tire piles.
Vermont produces about 600,000 used tires a year, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association. Of that amount, the number stockpiled in large piles isàzero. The worn-out tires are hauled out of the state and recycled elsewhere. This is a green state, you know.
So it comes as a surprise to learn the state legislators considered enacting a law that would have put tires into the same category as soda bottles and beer cans. A deposit would be required for every tire sold in the state, to ensure they are recycled. And not a 20- or 50-cent depositùmore like $5 to $10 a tire.
The Einsteins in the legislature also wanted all tires to have a label on them, describing the deposit and refund requirement. Of course, the politicos didn't specify how that would be done: One suggested "branding" the tires with the information. Yep, tires, cows, all the same. And tires wouldn't struggle before the hot iron, either.
So what initiated this masterpiece of regulation? The story is a bunch of high school students on a clean-up proj-ect fished 50 tires from a river. Ignorant of Vermont's sterling record for scrap tire abatement, they complained to their state reps that something must be done.
The politicians, knowing their "craft," seized on the idea. I mean, everyone loves the environment. They rolled out the, uh, shall we say, "stupid" proposal.
I, too, have seen tires in rivers. Maybe I'm jaded or have covered the tire industry for too long, but I had a different reaction from the high school kids when I came across discarded tires while canoeing the lovely Cuyahoga and Hocking rivers in Ohio.
"Oh, look at that BFG tireùthat's pre-Michelin. Ah, a Generalùall things for all people. And Kumho seems to be making strides in the marketùthere's one of theirs. Is that a Fisk! Oh man, an antique!"
If the politicians of Vermont really want to make a difference, they should join the high schoolers on their next tire clean-up foray. From what I've seen, they'll be able to do lots of good.
Noga is editor of Rubber & Plastics News. His e-mail address is [email protected]