HILTON HEAD, S.C.-Many firms and groups are taking active roles in managing and recycling scrap tires, which has emerged as a leading issue in the industry, according to speakers at the Clemson Tire Industry Conference, March 6-8, in Hilton Head. Markets for scrap tires have grown substantially in recent years, and the outlook appears to be good, said John Serumgard, chairman of the Scrap Tire Management Council, speaking at the conference.
Currently, about 72 percent of the roughly 253 million scrap tires generated annually in the U.S. are reused, he said.
``We believe we're making headway to reach the 100-percent goal (by the year 2000),'' Mr. Serumgard said.
The three major markets for scrap tires are: tire-derived fuel; products manufactured from scrap tires, including ground rubber; and civil engineering applications.
While scrap tire markets are expanding, certain myths about scrap tires must be overcome before the goal can be reached of reusing 100 percent of the 275 million scrap tires expected to be generated annually in the U.S. by 2000, he said.
One myth, according to Mr. Serumgard, is that incinerating tires causes pollution and tires used as fuel are dangerous.
Burning tires in a proper facility poses no danger, and tires are a very effective fuel, especially in cement kilns and for electrical generation facilities, he said.
``When tires are used in the right kind of facilities, they are a much better fuel than coal,'' Mr. Serumgard said.
Responding to the claim from some opponents of tire-derived fuel that tires are too valuable a commodity to just burn, he said, ``The fact of the matter is we have more than enough tires to go around.''
Some tire manufacturers also are taking more active roles in tire recycling/reuse.
Groupe Michelin incorporates approaches in different areas to foster recycling and environmental efforts, according to Douglas Bell, director of corporate administration for Michelin North America Inc.
Michelin is trying to make tires more retreadable, thereby lengthening tire life and reducing the number of scrap tires, he said.
Michelin also has tried to be environmentally responsible with the introduction of its low-rolling-resistance tires, which conserve fuel, thus reducing emissions-but without compromising other aspects of tire performance, such as traction, Mr. Bell said.
Michelin also has been working to incorporate recycled rubber in new tires and has achieved recycled content of up to 10 percent by rubber weight, ``. . . by utilizing ultra fine crumb rubber,'' he said.
The problems associated with recycling also have spawned new companies.
``Problems equal opportunities,'' said Bernard Bauman, president of Composite Particles Inc. of Allentown, Pa., a firm that produces surface-modified rubber particles.
The treated rubber particles can be used with many different compounds, he said, and used in a variety of industrial uses.