TORONTO (Sept. 19, 2008) — Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen has set forth plans to give his province its first scrap tire stewardship program in 15 years.
Canadian tire manufacturers have pledged to work with Gerretsen to make sure the program is viable. Ontario tire recycling firms strongly approve of Gerretsen's intentions to give them priority in getting supplied from the province's annual generation of 12 million scrap tires.
Tire retailers in Ontario, however, reportedly are unhappy with the proposal. The official spokesman for the province's tire dealers could not be reached for comment.
Gerretsen gave his plans in a letter to Gemma Zecchini, chairperson of Waste Diversion Ontario, a nonprofit provincial corporation charged with creating and administering recycling programs within Ontario.
In the letter, Gerretsen directed Waste Diversion Ontario to develop a waste diversion program for used tires, to be delivered to him no later than Dec. 31.
“The program should place a priority on the diversion of used tires into higher-end uses whenever possible, based on the principle of the three 'Rs'—reduction, reuse (i.e. retreading where feasible) and recycling,” Gerretsen wrote. “Landfilling, the use of used tires as daily cover at landfills, or incineration shall not be part of the program unless the '3R' options are not available or not technically feasible.”
Gerretsen said the program should include all aspects of used tire management, including handling, storage, collection, transportation, reuse, processing, recycling and disposal.
Designated stewards—including tire brand owners and first importers—should be responsible for the payment of all program costs, Gerretsen said.
These costs should include collection and storage of waste tires, research and development, public education and activities to develop and promote value-added markets for scrap tires, he said.
The program also should include a set of vendor qualification requirements to ensure used tires are stored, handled and processed in a safe, environmentally sound manner, Gerretsen said. It should have a method to track and audit used tires throughout the collection and processing system, and incentives to encourage industry stewards to reduce waste and increase recycling wherever feasible.
Ontario is the only Canadian province that does not have a tire stewardship program. In 1989, the Ontario government established a $5 fee on each new tire sold in the province to pay for scrap tire cleanup, but the fee was so unpopular a newly elected government repealed it in 1993.
Since then, many Ontario tire retailers have charged customers $2 to $5 per tire for the disposal of used tires. About half of Ontario's scrap tires go to the U.S. for use in tire-derived fuel projects.
Glenn Maidment, president of the Mississauga, Ontario-based Rubber Association of Canada, said his organization would support Gerretsen's plans, although they aren't what the tire industry envisioned.
Maidment is chairman of Ontario Tire Stewardship, an industry board made up of tire manufacturers and retailers. In 2004, the group proposed to Waste Diversion Ontario a stewardship plan that, among other things, would have charged $3.20 on each new passenger tire sold in Ontario ($4.80 on each new commercial truck tire) to fund research and development projects to promote tire recycling.
“We accept what the government is asking us to do, and we will roll up our sleeves and start working to give the province a tire program that will work,” Maidment said.
“In the end, it will look a lot like the other provincial programs,” he said. “I do not believe our members should be too concerned about how the program will play out.”
Wayne Bacik, vice president of sales and marketing for Toronto-based National Rubber Technologies Corp., said his company is happy with Gerretsen's proposal. NRT is a longtime supplier of recycled rubber products to the auto, construction and other industries.
“Certainly we strongly favor the proposed program structure,” Bacik said. “Right now it's a hodgepodge, a sort of free market that's not working. The proposed program puts us on a level playing field with other provinces and U.S. states.”
Although NRT has a number of tire haulers it uses for raw material supply, it has a hard time competing with TDF users for tires, according to Bacik.
Gerretsen's letter did not outline how stewards would pay for the program. News sources in Ontario have speculated Waste Diversion Ontario will charge stewards a direct fee, and the stewards in turn would pass on the cost to consumers in the price of new tires.
The same sources quote Ontario tire retailers as saying Gerretsen is trying to fix a system that isn't broken.