WASHINGTON—Eight out of 10 provinces in Canada have made tire recycling a priority and have passed laws creating scrap tire management programs. Canada generates about 26.3 million scrap tires annually, according to PHA Consulting Associates of Canning, Nova Scotia.
All provinces with a scrap tire management program have a tire recovery rate of at least 80 percent. One province—New Brunswick—claims a total recovery and recycling rate of 130 percent, meaning it recycles essentially all newly generated scrap tires, as well as a portion of those in stockpiles.
Yet the philosophy behind tire recycling in Canada is somewhat different than in the U.S., where state scrap tire funds usually go toward schemes to develop end-uses and markets for tires, as well as for abatement of stockpiles.
In all the Canadian provincial programs, a good portion of scrap tire funds go directly to the transporters and processors.
``This skews the marketplace dramatically,'' said Michael H. Blumenthal, executive director of the Scrap Tire Management Council. ``People can bring ground tires from Alberta to California for less than it costs to produce the same crumb rubber in California. This is not a criticism, just an observation. But it does skew the marketplace.''
Funding scrap tire processors directly also provides a powerful disincentive against their developing their own markets, leaving them vulnerable, Mr. Blumenthal said.
``It's much like what happened in Texas,'' he said. ``When (the state) stopped funding processors, most of them went out of business.''
Mr. Blumenthal's view is ``oversimplified,'' said Donald G. Campbell, retired president of the Rubber Association of Canada, which worked closely with each provincial government to try to establish scrap tire management programs.
All the provincial programs have fallen into the same pattern of placing mandatory fees on each new tire and using the proceeds for scrap tire abatement and funding for haulers and processors, Mr. Campbell said.
Provincial governments and the Canadian tire industry alike believe that giving grants to crumb rubber producers, manufacturers of recycled rubber products and other processors will help them to develop their own markets.
Eventually, Mr. Campbell said, the fees will disappear entirely as scrap tire markets grow and mature.
Work toward creating scrap tire programs in Canada began when the RAC formed a Task Force for Scrap Tire Disposal, which first met in western Canada in 1989 and 1990, said David Morgan, chairman of the task force and manager of business research for Goodyear Canada Inc.
A number of government officials were eager to promote scrap tire recycling, Mr. Morgan said, and a coalition was formed comprising representatives from all groups with a stake in the problem and its solution.
British Columbia, in 1991, was the first province to pass a comprehensive scrap tire management law. Alberta and Manitoba followed suit shortly thereafter, and soon almost every province had a scrap tire law.
However, the task force did not succeed in all its goals.
``We tried to establish a program over multiple jurisdictions, but then it broke apart,'' Mr. Morgan said. ``Provincial legislators started saying, `You want to transport scrap tires from another province to here for processing? No siree, bub!'''
Generally speaking, the provincial scrap tire management programs in Canada are multistakeholder boards, councils or associations (depending on the appellation each province gives to the body). Government officials, representatives of the tire industry and environmentalists constitute the membership of most of the boards.
For the most part, the boards are run privately, created by the provincial governments but run ``at arm's length'' from them, in the words of Paul McLoughlin, general manager of the New Brunswick Tire Stewardship Board.
But there are exceptions. British Columbia, the province with the oldest scrap tire management program, has always contracted the program out to Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, the giant accounting and management consulting firm.
PricewaterhouseCoopers has a ``Tires Team'' that reports directly to the British Columbia Ministry of Environment and meets every one or two weeks, said Birthe M. Levie, who heads the Tires Team from PricewaterhouseCoopers' office in Victoria, British Columbia.
``We make recommendations, but ultimately it is the Ministry of the Environment which makes all decisions,'' Mr. Levie said. ``Our biggest function is to maintain contact between the stakeholders.''
On the other hand, tiny Prince Edward Island, with only 100,000 scrap tires generated annually, keeps its tire management functions directly under the authority of its Department of the Environment.
However, responsibility may be transferred to its Department of Public Works by early next year, said George Gaudet, an inspector with the Department of the Environment.
As in most state programs in the U.S., provinces place a fee of a few dollars on the sale of every new tire to fund scrap tire abatement. Fees range from as low as $2.00 per tire (all amounts in Canadian dollars) on Prince Edward Island to as high as $35 apiece for giant off-road tires in Saskatchewan.
In general, scrap tire funds go to pay for the hauling and processing of scrap tires and the administrative costs of the programs.
Two provinces chose a different funding path initially, but have reconsidered. Saskatchewan made its tire fees voluntary when it began its program in 1996, but changed them to mandatory in November 1998 when it discovered it was receiving fees on only about half the tires sold in the province.
Until recently, Quebec's Society for Recovery and Recycling, or Recyc-Quebec funded its scrap tire activities through incentive recovery fees on plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
But a $3.5 million shortfall, plus complaints about using funds from one recycling effort to fund another, led Recyc-Quebec on Oct. 1 to place a fee of $3.00 on each new tire sold in Quebec, said Marc Balanger, an analyst with Recyc-Quebec.
The two exceptions
Only two Canadian provinces have no scrap tire program at present. One of them is rural Newfoundland.
``Waste management in general and tire management in particular have never been a really high priority there,'' said Doug Hickman, president of PHA Consulting Associates. ``Newfoundland also has the least money of all the provinces.''
The other exception, however, is surprising. Ontario generates approximately 10 million scrap tires annually—4 million more than Quebec, the second-largest generator—and is the home of such progressive companies as NRI Industries Inc., the Toronto firm that specializes in automotive parts made wholly or in part from recycled rubber.
An unpopular tax of $5.00 per tire—collected between 1989 and 1993 by an activist, environmentalist provincial government—spurred opposition in Ontario toward a scrap tire program, Mr. Morgan said.
``The tax got a lot of resistance from the public, particularly tire dealers and retailers,'' he said. ``They made a big issue of the fact that the funds from the tax were going into the provincial general fund, not a scrap tire fund.''
After the tax was rescinded, a new, more conservative Ontario government was very reluctant to even discuss a scrap tire program.
NRI Industries would prefer Ontario to have a scrap tire program, said Michael Schnekenburger, the company's vice president of corporate development. But the lack of one is hardly an obstacle for NRI, he said, although crumb rubber producers in provinces with grants for processors offer considerable price advantages.
``If I were to consider setting up a new tire recycling plant, Ontario is still one of the locations I'd consider,'' Mr. Schnekenburger said. ``It comes down to the supply of tires and how readily they can be obtained, and people are paying tipping fees here.''
At least one municipal government in Ontario has taken matters into its own hands. For some years, Grey County has collected its own tire fees, the proceeds going to turn the county's scrap tires into a highly successful blend of asphalt rubber.
Grey County has laid about 10 miles of rubberized asphalt so far this year, and nearly 56 miles altogether since the program began, said Gary Shaw, the county's highways department manager.
Mr. Shaw is concerned that the initial reason for Grey County's program—to clean up scrap tire stockpiles—is being ignored in other sections of Ontario.
``If there were a (provincial) program, it would make it much easier to get rid of those stockpiles,'' he said.
Tire recycling varies
Canadian provinces vary, not only in the number of scrap tire processors and recyclers they have within their borders, but also in the types of recycling they promote.
British Columbia, for example, has 13 scrap tire processors or end-users, Mr. Levie said. Quebec has eight, including two cement kilns that use tire-derived fuel (TDF), Mr. Balanger said.
Prince Edward Island, on the other hand, has none. Its tire funds go toward collecting the scrap tires and transporting them to landfills and/or storing them for future use.
``We've used maybe 200,000 tires as lightweight fill on road construction projects, and sent another 50,000 shredded to the U.S.,'' Mr. Gaudet said. The province is considering other scrap tire projects for the remaining 600,000 tires it has stored, including further road construction, TDF and artificial reefs, he added.
New Brunswick has only one tire processor—Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Inc., or TRACC, of Minto—and all the province's subsidies go to it, Mr. McLoughlin said. TRACC makes mats and pillows for farm animals, mud flaps and blasting mats for a natural gas pipeline project.
Nova Scotia's major tire processor—Nova Tire Recyclers of Cornwallis—has pretty much the same product mix as TRACC, said Lauren Yeomans, communications officer for the Nova Scotia Resource Recovery Fund Board.
Nova, however, is not the only tire recycler in Nova Scotia. ``We also have some private retreaders,'' Ms. Yeomans said. ``There have been some complaints, especially at the beginning, on the order of, `Why are they (Nova) getting all the money?'''
Of all the differences in tire processing philosophies among the provinces, the sharpest one concerns TDF. British Columbia, for example, has one TDF user and pays grants for TDF, although the rate of payment is less than for processors who make actual goods from recycled tires, Mr. Levie said.
On the other hand, the Tire Recycling Management Association of Alberta has never made funds available for TDF.
``The average Albertan didn't feel it was the best use of scrap tires,'' said Doug Wright, the TRMA's executive director. ``It's sort of a philosophical opposition.''
Saskatchewan also has no TDF users. ``We have no mandate against it, but we prefer other uses if there's a better, value-added process,'' said Theresa McQuoid, executive director of the Saskatchewan Scrap Tire Corp.