Scrap tire industry participants need to join together to ensure the business remains viable well into the future, according to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries´ Scrap Tire Chapter.
The success of what ISRI laid out in its "Design for Recycling" position statement, however, will depend on how much tire design information tire manufacturers share with tire recyclers, according to speakers at the 2007 Tire Recycling Business Summit, held in Rosemont, Ill., Sept. 16-18.
The recycling industry reached a crisis a few years ago with the introduction of Enhanced Casing Design tires, which contained polyamide belts to strengthen the casings. Those belts were so strong they destroyed tire grinding equipment, said Mark Rannie, vice president of Emanuel Tire Co. in Baltimore. And recyclers had no way to tell which tires were ECD tires.
Finally, the new tire industry gave recyclers a list of all ECD tires, and recyclers now regularly separate those from the rest of the inventory. Even so, problems associated with ECD tires ended up costing the industry some $250,000, Rannie said, and the problems are not over.
"Approximately 15 to 20 percent of the tires on the road today are ECD tires," he said. "Affordable technical solutions still haven´t been found, because processing ECD tires would require over $1 million in equipment.
"It´s critical to our industry that we understand what´s in a tire before we go through something like that again."
The "Design for Recycling" statement, unveiled at the summit, addresses the ECD situation directly.
"Though most tires currently in the marketplace are recyclable, some, due to their manufacturing processes, are not," the document states. "This raises the concern that future products may also be designed and released into the marketplace that do not take into consideration resource awareness, societal health and safety, and end-of-life management.
"A lack of forewarning of new products, or the creation of products that are not easily recycled, could put (tire recyclers´) investments at risk," it states.
Call for a joint effort
ISRI calls on recyclers and manufacturers to form a joint working group to discuss a partnership based on free exchange of design and recycling information. "Scrap recyclers are not looking for proprietary information on manufacturing processes," the document states. "Rather, scrap recyclers are looking for advance notice regarding the introduction of new products that will allow them to respond to new or developing trends appropriately."
The document calls on industry stakeholders to meet sometime during the remainder of this year to advance the concept of a "Design for Recycling" working group.
But Tom Woodhead of scrap tire management at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and president of the Rubber Manufacturers Association´s Scrap Tire and Environmental Committee-was cautious regarding the idea.
The RMA was a pioneer in promoting scrap tire management, establishing its scrap tire program in 1990, Wood said.
"We recognize that scrap tire management is important," he said. "We understand that changes in tire construction affect recycling, but we have to consider safety, performance and durability above all else."