Sacramento, California — A bill in the California Senate that would have severely restricted the use of zinc or zinc oxide in tires has been revised to exclude any mention of zinc or tires.
Introduced Feb. 18, California Senate Bill 1260 would have banned the sale of motor vehicle tires in California that contained more than a certain amount of zinc by weight.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association, the International Zinc Association and other groups opposed the measure and planned to create a coalition to fight it.
In an 18 March letter to bill sponsor Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, the RMA stated flatly that tire manufacturing is impossible without zinc oxide.
Zinc oxide is a crucial activator in vulcanization, and banning or restricting zinc oxide in tires would require extensive changes in tire composition that could well affect tire safety, according to the letter signed by Anne Forristall Luke, RMA president and CEO.
“The bill would require fundamental breakthroughs in basic rubber chemistry that, even if feasible, would not achieve significant environmental benefit,” Luke wrote.
“Even if it were possible to reduce zinc oxide in tires, such reductions would not significantly reduce zinc in stormwater in California,” she wrote. There are many sources of zinc in stormwater, and the California Stormwater Quality Association overestimated the role of tire particles in contributing to zinc levels, she said.
Shortly thereafter, Allen withdrew SB 1260, then introduced a revised version that concerns stormwater only, with no mention of zinc or tires.