WAYNESBURG, Ohio—Tire monofill operators, such as American Landfill Inc., envision the day when scrap tires are ``mined'' for use in products. While American Landfill's CEO and President Steve Kilper isn't sure what those products will be or when the scrap tires will be mined, he's taking steps to make it possible.
Last January, Warren, Ohio-based American Landfill opened a Waynesburg landfill solely for scrap tires—one of two in the state and one of a few in the nation.
``There's got to be a place for the scrap tires to go,'' Mr. Kilper said. ``We like to think of it as a storage facility rather than a landfill facility because they can be used in the future.''
The 31-acre Ohio monofill, on the fringe of a 950-acre landfill located at an old strip mine, is designed to hold up to 200 million shredded tires. ``I would imagine that it (space in the monofill) will last for 30 years,'' Mr. Kilper said.
While Mr. Kilper declined to reveal how much money American Landfill makes from the scrap tires, he said the firm charges $59.50 per ton for passenger, light truck and truck tires.
It's not known how many monofills are operating in the U.S. Michael Blumenthal, executive director of the Scrap Tire Management Council (STMC), said there are no firm numbers available. But he said Ohio, Kansas and Louisiana appear to be in the forefront when it comes to tire monofills.
The need for tire monofills stems from the barring of scrap tires at regular landfills. In Ohio, whole scrap tires have been banned from landfills, and shredded scrap tires won't be allowed in landfills after March.
``We've responded to a need,'' Mr. Kilper said. ``We knew something was coming and we hopped on it right away.''
A shredder on the site handles about 1,200 tires per hour and most are shredded into pieces about 1 foot square.
That size is perfect for the future, Mr. Kilper said. ``With the size of the scrap, dirt on it can be washed off easily,'' he said.
But the Washington-based STMC's Mr. Blumenthal doesn't believe it will ever come to that.
``There is this misguided belief that monofills will fill the void in the marketplace,'' he said. ``People think it's going to be like a piggy bank—that we can go to it when there is a need. I don't agree with that.''
Mr. Blumenthal said the STMC does not discourage tire monofills, noting it prefers monofills over stockpiles or indiscriminate dumping.
``We tell operators that if you go down this road, this will be your market for scrap tires,'' Mr. Blumenthal said. ``The cost is so low that nothing else can compete with it. We prefer using scrap tires for fuel, civil engineering purposes or ground rubber applications. Monofills are a way to manage tires, but they are not a market for scrap tires.''
The idea of mining the tires isn't viable because ``any dirt-covered rubber cannot be used for ground rubber, and that's where most applications get their supply,'' according to Mr. Blumenthal.
Plus, once the rubber goes into a monofill, it's a lost resource ``because the cost of bringing it back out will be prohibitive,'' he said.