The recycled rubber industry has spent most of the last two decades trying to develop markets that stand on their own from a business sense without relying on government handouts.
Over the years, this has included subsidies designed to encourage companies to collect and dispose of scrap tires in a responsible manner. What followed was an endless stream of new companies popping up, touting some new-or sometimes recycled (pun intended)-technology that would magically make the scrap tire problem disappear. But many of those businesses disappeared themselves, instead.
Those that have been in the rubber recycling industries have long said that recycled goods must stand on their own aside from government subsidies. They rightfully argue that only market forces can dictate the success or failure of goods made with recycled content.
Now with the idea of building ``green industries'' gaining steam across the country-particularly among politicians in Washington-it's not surprising that the possibility of another form of government aid is taking shape.
The Tire Investment, Recovery and Extension Act-or TIRE Act for short-would give fleet operators a tax credit for every tire purchased containing a certain amount of recycled rubber powder.
The congressman who introduced the bill in January argues that using recycled rubber in tires can save oil, so it can pay a double bonus of creating jobs and decreasing dependence on foreign oil. He also happens to be from the same district as a Lehigh Technologies factory, a relatively new player in the recycling field.
Now Lehigh is nothing like some of the fly-by-night operators that used to populate the recycling landscape. It's a company with strong financial backing, a veteran management team and technology that has shown strong promise in the firm's short life.
In the end, however, Lehigh will learn that no matter how much the government helps, its business too must prove itself where it counts-in the market.