More Old Tires Put to New Uses; Scrap Tire Piles Receding

Industry Report Shows Continued Environmental Progress

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

Washington, DCJune 22, 2009 - Think those old tires you replaced get tossed into some landfill? Think again. Nearly 90 percent of tires that are replaced and thrown away every year are put to a new productive use. The reuse rate of scrap tires tops most recovered waste materials including glass bottles, paper and aluminum cans.

The ninth report on scrap tire markets issued by the Rubber Manufacturers Association since 1994 shows continued progress in scrap tire management practices across the nation resulting in significant reduction of scrap tire stockpiles and continued progress in putting waste tires to new uses.

“Scrap tire management in the U.S. is a huge environmental success story,” said Michael Blumenthal, RMA vice president. “Markets for scrap tires are growing and old piles of scrap tires are shrinking.”

In 2007, 89.3% percent of the scrap tires generated in the U.S. by weight were consumed in end-use markets. The total volume of scrap tires consumed in end-use markets in the U.S. reached approximately 4105.8 thousand tons of tires – the largest amount ever since RMA began tabulating scrap tire statistics.
RMA estimates that about 4595.7 thousand tons of tires were generated in the U.S. in 2007. By comparison, in 2005, about 82 percent of tires were consumed by weight. In 1990, only eleven percent of tires were consumed on a per tire basis.

The percentage of scrap tires consumed by markets increased 13.5 percent, while the volume of tires utilized increased by about 489.7 thousand tons. The market percentage is affected not only by the volume of scrap tires consumed but also by the volume of scrap tires generated. The scrap tire generation rate has steadily increased along with the population in the United States, which tempers the increase in market percentage. This has been a consistent trend since RMA began to chronicle scrap tire markets in 1990.

Scrap tires were consumed by a variety of scrap tire markets, including tire-derived fuel, civil engineering and ground rubber applications. Other smaller markets and legal landfilling consume the remaining annually-generated tires, which indicates that new stockpile production should be negligible.

Key Scrap Tire Markets:

Tire-Derived Fuel (TDF) – Scrap tires are used as a cleaner and more economical alternative to coal as fuel in cement kilns, pulp and paper mills and industrial and utility boilers. TDF accounted for about 2484.4 thousand tons of scrap tires in the U.S. in 2007, or about 54 percent of the total scrap tires generated. Due to increasing fuel prices and improvements in the quality and reliable delivery of TDF, this market is anticipated to experience strong demand for the next two years

Ground Rubber – This market consumed 789.1 thousand tons of scrap tires, or about 17 percent of the volume of scrap tires generated. Ground rubber applications include new rubber products, playground and other sports surfacing and rubber-modified asphalt. The sports surfacing market remained the most dynamic segment in the ground rubber market during this period. The ground rubber market is expected to experience modest growth in the next two years.

Civil Engineering – This market consumed 561.6 thousand tons of tires in 2007, about 12 percent of the total tires to market and consisted of tire shreds used in road and landfill construction, septic tank leach fields and other construction applications. Tires add beneficial properties in these applications, such as vibration and sound control, lightweight fill to prevent erosion and landslides and facilitate drainage in leachate systems. This market experienced a continued decrease since from its peak in 2003, due to competition from TDF markets.
At the end of 2007, about 128 million scrap tires remained in stockpiles in the United States, a reduction of over 87 percent since 1990.

“The success of cleaning scrap tires is due to state efforts to abate stockpiled tires, develop sustainable scrap tire markets and enforce existing scrap tire laws and regulations,” Blumenthal said.

The remaining stockpiles are concentrated in seven states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Texas. These states contain over 85 percent of the scrap tires remaining in stockpiles. Of these states, Alabama, Michigan and New York have ongoing abatement programs. Texas completed an abatement effort in 2007. RMA continues to work with legislators and regulators in these states to develop and implement effective scrap tire programs to address these stockpiles.

The RMA publication, “Scrap Tire Markets in the U.S.; 9th Biennial Report,” is available free for download at www.rma.org.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include more than 80 companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products.