SALT LAKE CITY—This may be the year Utah achieves its goal to eliminate all major scrap tire piles in the state, according to a state solid-waste official. Two piles in Salt Lake County, containing 500,000 to 1 million tires, will be cleaned up early this year according to Ralph Bohn, solid waste section manager for Utah's Department of Environmental Quality.
``We're getting close to the daily generation rate,'' said Mr. Bohn. ``The program works, is the bottom line.''
Money for the dump cleanups comes from the state's Waste Tire Trust Fund, which pays recyclers $70 per ton to rid the state of tires. The fund held $6.5 million last October and handed out $1.6 million during fiscal 1996. It was created in 1990, funded by a $1 fee on each new tire sold. That fee was cut in half last July.
The state generated about 1.5 million scrap tires during the 1996 fiscal year, ended in July, Mr. Bohn said. At the same time, about 1.4 million were recycled in-state and another 900,000 recycled elsewhere. Tire recycling was running about 13 percent higher in the first four months of fiscal 1997, Mr. Bohn said. The state has seven registered tire recyclers, most of whom burn tires for fuel.
In addition to paying recyclers, the fund will cover the transportation cost for landfills to transport tires to recyclers. This is helpful to the rural counties, where tires are stockpiled at landfills until the stack is large enough to ship economically, Mr. Bohn said.
The program has had a few setbacks. Last year, ICD in Ogden, Utah, failed in its venture to shred tires. It received $87,000 from the state fund but failed to find an end use for the tires. It used some shredded rubber as a base on its own road, but in the end it closed, leaving an abandoned tire pile.
Another aspect of removing tires involves providing loans to companies creating new uses for tires.
Operated by the Department of Community and Economic Development, the waste-tire recycling fund is off to a slower start.
Only one company, Salt Lake's Emery Recycling Corp., has received a loan, according to fund administrator Richard Nelson.
ERC is developing a commercial prototype of its waste-gasification technology which will burn 25 tons of tires daily.
The state issued a $250,000 loan last July, and ERC has until June 30 to recycle 100,000 tires. During the remaining four years of the loan, ERC must use at least 400,000 Utah scrap tires annually.
While there have been some delays, ERC should fire up its kiln early this year, the company said.
The process is cleaner than other burning methods and produces saleable byproducts: a commercially viable synthetic gas, reusable oils, and sterile ash, ERC said.
Mr. Nelson said he hopes to find others like ERC that have new tire-recycling technology. The loan fund he oversees has about $780,000 available, he said.
Maximum loans are for $250,000 and must be secured by assets other than the tire-recycling technology.