AUSTIN, Texas-Texas tire retailers must now collect a state tire recycling fee on the sale of ``good used tires'' under a Texas law that went into effect Sept. 1. But dealers claim the used tire fee is largely uncollectible. The new waste tire rules also could lead to more illegal dumping and stockpiling of tires in storage yards, the executive director of the Texas Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association said.
The way Kay Knapp sees it, the state's 3-year-old waste tire recycling program was working just fine before state legislators stepped in and changed the rules.
In addition to the existing $2 fee tire retailers collect on the sale of new tires, with 12- to under 17.5-inch rim diameters, the state has imposed a $1 fee on the sale of used passenger/light truck tires and raised the fee on new large truck tires from $2 to $3.50.
The state uses the funds to reimburse tire processors who collect scrap tires free-of-charge from retailers.
The Texas Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association considers the used tire fee as ``double dipping'' the consumer, according to Ms. Knapp, since there is no clear definition for ``good'' used tires and since many used tire sales are conducted on vacant lots and out of trailers without paperwork or tax payments.
Also under the new revisions, processors get a nickel less than they used to-80 cents compared to 85 cents-for each tire shredded for recycling. As a result of this reduction, Ms. Knapp said, tire processors already have started limiting the number of miles they're willing to travel to collect tires from generators.
After Jan. 1, processors will be responsible for finding end-users for the tire shreds or face having their reimbursements withheld by the state.
Regulatory officials say the new legislation was needed for several reasons: To create a fund to reimburse energy recovery facilities 85 cents for each weighed tire they use; to establish grants to cover construction and equipment costs for energy recovery plants; and to eliminate piles of waste tire shreds that had begun to replace piles of whole tires.
Jennifer Sidnell, manager of the state's automotive waste program, said the legislation will help improve the market for waste tire recycling.
``What we have here is a situation very typical in recycling where the material accumulates a lot faster than the market develops,'' Ms. Sidnell said. ``It happened with newspapers and with glass, and we expected it with tires. I think we have now a good law that promotes (waste tire) recycling more than the previous bill.''
Bud Gibson, owner and president of Gibson Recycling Inc. in Atlanta, Texas, said the small processors will feel the reimbursement pinch the most. ``Instead of adjusting for inflation, the state now is paying processors less.
``We're still trying to grow and become more efficient in what is still a fledgling industry. We've gone through a learning curve and made progress, but every time we start making headway the state comes along and changes the rules,'' Mr. Gibson said.
A West Texas tire processor noted the lack of end-users for recycled tires is putting processors at an economic disadvantage.
``Why is the state of Texas penalizing us for something that is out of our control?'' asked Bill Gann, president of Environmental Recovery & Recycling Inc. in Stamford, Texas.
``You might think a nickel isn't much but it's worth an awful lot to an industry that deals in volume. We're talking about a loss of $10,000 to $12,000 a month,'' he said.