HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.-During 1994, the tire recycling industry experienced the greatest period of growth in its 10-year history, and a number of favorable conditions are developing this year, Recycling Research Institute's Mary Sikora told attendees at the Clemson University Tire Industry Conference, March 9-10, at Hilton Head Island. Today, 48 states have established programs for the management and recycling of tires, she said. (Alaska and Delaware don't have such programs).
In 1994, 55.4 percent of the more than 250 million scrap tires generated were reused or recycled, including about 100 million tires used for fuel, Ms. Sikora said.
Twenty-nine cement kilns burn tires today compared with two in 1990. Another 14 kilns are testing tire burning, while 12 others are investigating the possibility, she said.
About 16 industrial plants use tire-derived fuel in their boilers, while 115 resource recovery facilities burn between 2- to 5-percent tire fuels. Two tires-to-energy plants in the U.S. burn about 15 million scrap tires a year.
Another plus for tire recycling is the move by federal, state and local governments to favor recycled products, Ms. Sikora said. ``On the federal level, the EPA finalized the Comprehensive Guidelines for Procurement of Products Containing Recovered Materials which now includes recycled-rubber track and playground pavement and traffic-related products in addition to retread tires,'' she said.
Among other factors boosting tire recycling, according to Ms. Sikora, include:
Commodity initiatives. ``Perhaps the most significant advance for recycled products is the potential to be traded as a commodity on the world's largest futures exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade,'' she said. This is still in the planning stages.
Establishing tests and standards. The American Society of Testing and Materials has established committees to address several recycling areas.
Market awareness. The Vehicle Recycling Partnership was formed last year by Chrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. to study opportunities for recycling, reuse and disposal of vehicle components.
Research and development. Several R*&*D projects are coming to fruition, bringing to market technologies and equipment with the potential to broaden the range of products that can use recycled tire rubber as feedstock.
``These market indicators seem to point to an industry poised to turn the corner on success,'' Ms. Sikora said.