New markets reshaping US scrap tire sector
ERJ staff report (PR)
Miami, Florida – The end-of-life tire (ELT) landscape in the US is being transformed by the development of applications for scrap rubber materials and increased interaction with markets in other world regions, according to speakers at a Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) meeting.
“From the point in the early 1990s when domestic stockpiles contained a total of more than 2 billion used tires, all 50 US states now have some form of ELT regulation and stockpiles are down to 100 million tires,” Charles Astafan, general manager of tire recycling equipment maker Columbus McKinnon, said at the 2 June meeting of the BIR tires & rubber committee in Miami.
There was now “very high utilisation” of scrap tires in the US, added the recycling machinery boss, who cited recent statistics showing around 38% going into tire-derived fuel, 24% into ground rubber and 8% into civil engineering applications.
Industry consolidation, continued Astafan, was now “a big thing in the US”, with six companies controlling 85% of all tires, though he added that competition for scrap tires was driving tipping fees down. Meanwhile, he added that a shortage of material had emerged in certain geographical markets, partly due to shipments between continents.
“Years ago, people would never have thought this would happen due to the high cost of moving material,” the manager of US-based Columbus McKinnon commented. However, he went on to warn that new, higher-value markets were required for the industry to continue to grow.
At the same meeting, Michael Blumenthal, vice president of the Rubber Manufacturers Association, highlighted the completion in May of a three-year approval process for a new ASTM standard specification. This relates to loose-fill rubber used as a safety surface under and around playground equipment, covering performance requirements, sampling, testing, size requirements, and metal and fluff content.
A similar project for synthetic turf infill is expected to be completed later this year, with the issues to be finalised including amounts of non-rubber material and frequency of testing, said Blumenthal.
Meanwhile, BIR tires & rubber committee chairman Barend Ten Bruggencate of VACO, trade organisation for the Dutch tire and wheel industry, outlined efforts to secure 'end-of-waste' status for ELT-derived granulates and tire casings for retreading.
He described this development, by which ELT waste gains the status of a product or a secondary raw material, as “an extremely big step”.
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