LANSING, Mich.-Michigan tire dealers are voicing support for legislation that would extend the state's scrap tire cleanup program for another five years and increase funding for tire cleanup projects. The Michigan Tire & Vehicle Service Association is backing two bills that would increase the scrap tire assessment in the state's vehicle transfer fee, set to expire at year's end, from 50 cents to $1.50 and allow the state to remove tires from private properties where the owners were not responsible for the stockpiled tires.
The MTVSA believes the extra $1 surcharge on vehicle registrations is fair, according to President Joe Kay of Northland Tire & Service, Southfield, Mich. Retailers must pay for disposal of waste tires through a licensed hauler, and they usually charge customers a $1 or $2 disposal fee, he added.
``Our first choice is not to tax anything. Our second choice is that it's simpler to go through (vehicle) registration,'' Mr. Kay said, referring to a proposal by the Michigan Scrap Tire Recycling Association that calls for a scrap tire fee on the retail sale of tires. The MTVSA has officially objected to that proposal. ``We don't want to be a tax collector,'' said Mr. Kay.
The additional dollars that would be generated under the bill-about $2.8 million annually-would fund the cleanup of abandoned tires on public and private sites. Currently, funds can only be used for projects on public property, according to Kyle Cruse of the state Department of Environmental Quality.
The number of stockpiled tires in Michigan is estimated between 20 million and as many as 60 million. And residents generate another 7.5 million to 9 million scrap tires annually.
As for Michigan's recycling market, there are several prospects that together could recycle the state's annual generation of waste tires. A small power plant consumes about 750,000 tires annually as fuel, and three cement kilns in the state have expressed interest in tire-derived fuel, Mr. Cruse said.
And recently, National Rubber Co. Inc. of Toronto opened a plant in Flat Rock, Mich., that promises eventually to convert 4 million tires a year into automotive parts.