WASHINGTON — A new bill before the U.S. House of Representatives would offer tax breaks to vehicle fleet owners who buy truck tires with significant recycled rubber content.
The legislation has won the praise of Lehigh Technologies L.L.C., a manufacturer of engineered rubber powders that sees the bill as a way to increase demand for recycled rubber.
However, the Rubber Manufacturers Association opposes the bill on the grounds that incentives to use recycled rubber should come from the free market, not a government mandate.
Introduced Jan. 23 by Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., and 10 co-sponsors, the Tire Investment, Recovery and Extension Act would give vehicle fleet operators a $3 tax credit on every tire they purchased that contained a pre-determined amount of recycled rubber powder of 80 mesh or finer.
The amount triggering the tax credit in the first year would be 8-percent recycled rubber powder in a new tire and 10 percent in a retread tire. That percentage would increase gradually to 12 percent for a new tire and 14 percent for a retread tire after five years.
In introducing the bill, Johnson said that adding 10-percent recycled rubber to a tire would save one gallon of oil.
Johnson said promoting these alternative and environmentally friendly technologies will help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and create jobs and business opportunities for the future.
Johnson represents Georgia´s Fourth Congressional District. That district contains Tucker, Ga., the location of Lehigh Technologies´ manufacturing plant. The company plans to announce the sites for two more facilities later this year.
RMA Vice President Michael Blumenthal said the TIRE Act sends a wrong message to the recycled rubber market. "The use of ground rubber should not be dictated by any government entity," he said. "It should be solely a function of the market.