WASHINGTON—A trade association representing most tire manufacturing in the U.S. is hoping to influence eventual infrastructure spending and boost the industry in the process.
The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association is urging Congress and the Biden administration to take several steps to promote the recycling of scrap tires, according to a May 24 letter.
"As Congress negotiates the breadth and depth of the infrastructure package, we respectfully urge you to include policies that ensure our nation's infrastructure is designed to meet important sustainability and resiliency goals in addition to supporting future mobility systems," USTMA CEO Anne Forristall Luke wrote in the letter.
USTMA outlines five ways the federal government can strengthen the tire manufacturing industry while also delivering "on its important environmental objectives." First, the association urges law makers to invest in research and use of rubber modified asphalt in new and existing infrastructure work. The group also wants more research into the use of tire derived aggregate in stormwater infiltration galleries.
To help ensure the circularity of the tire industry, USTMA proposes that all tires used on federal vehicles enter what it calls the "tire circularity market." While 76 percent of scrap tires in 2019 found beneficial end-use markets, recent research shows the number of tires being recycled has plateaued in the U.S. Ensuring the federal government's involvement in this area could help boost recycling through its leadership.
"There are myriad uses of scrap tires that can prevent them from ending up in landfills or illegal dump sites," Luke said. "USTMA and its members share the goal that all scrap tires enter sustainable and circular end-use markets, and we believe the federal government can contribute to that mission."
USTMA also suggests incentivizing "the growth of U.S. manufacturing of retreaded tires for commercial vehicles" as the "use of low rolling resistance tires" to increase fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Federal mandates that divert used tires from landfills would help the country with sustainability and environmental goals, USTMA said, especially when coupled with the greater use of retreads.
"Tire manufacturing is an essential industry that directly supports more than a quarter million U.S. jobs across every congressional district in the country," Luke said. "Our 13 member companies produce 85 percent of the tires sold in the United States and are committed to upholding tire safety standards and market circularity. As such, there are several ways in which Congress and the tire industry can collaborate to meet our shared objectives."
The CEO, in a separate statement, called the recommendations "concrete actions Congress can take to support transportation innovations not only to improve performance and sustainability on our roads, but to ensure a comprehensive infrastructure plan."
The letter was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. President Joe Biden as well as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg were among the administration members copied on the letter.