PORTLAND, Ore. (Dec. 19, 2000)—A low scrap tire recovery rate may cause Oregon to consider reinstating a new-tire fee if state lawmakers follow an advisory group´s recommendations.
That could mean tire dealers would have to collect a state fee on new tires that would go towards creating markets for scrap tires.
Oregon´s tire recovery rate—the amount of tires collected that are re-used, recycled or retreaded—had fallen below 30 percent in 1998 from 95 percent in 1994, according to Steve Apotheker, senior analyst for regional environmental management at Oregon´s Department of Environmental Quality.
In 1999, the state recovered 22,804 tons of tires but sent 47,280 tons to landfills, according to DEQ estimates.
That falling rate caused the DEQ to convene a citizen´s advisory group called the Waste Policy Leadership Group to investigate Oregon´s low recovery rate for tires and determine what the state should do about it, Mr. Apotheker said. The result is that the group has endorsed an unspecified tire fee to fund end-uses for scrap and raise the state´s recovery rate back to 95 percent.
The Association of Oregon Recyclers (AOR)—a consortium of garbage haulers, local government officials and non-profit recycling groups—also has endorsed a legislative proposal calling for a $2 to $3 fee per new tire sold.
Mr. Apotheker, who serves as the legislative chair for the AOR, said the group would like Oregon to develop a program similar to Alberta, where a board made up of tire dealers, local governments and environmental groups oversees the province´s scrap tire management activities. A new-tire fee is collected, and the board uses those funds to pay tire processors and end users to create market demand, Mr. Apotheker explained.
But if a proposal for a new-tire fee appears soon in the legislative session, the Northwest Tire Dealers Association is ready to oppose it, said NWTDA Executive Director Dick Nordness. He said the association´s members agree that Oregon needs some help in building markets for scrap tires, but the state could achieve that goal through other means, such as a fee on vehicle registrations.
"We don´t feel like we should be the tax collectors for the state," Mr. Nordness said.
Although Oregon was one of the first states to impose a fee on new tires to clean up scrap piles, that $1-per-tire fee sunset in 1992 after all piles disappeared. Mr. Nordness said that during that period, dealers spent more time and energy explaining the fee to customers than on actually selling a tire.
Mr. Apotheker said Oregon dealers currently charge a fee on tires that ranges from $1 to $6 per tire to cover disposal costs.
In the late 1990s, the state increased the amount of tire shreds it sent to monofills after paper mills discontinued the practice of burning tire chips as fuel, according to Peter Spendelow, waste reduction specialist at the DEQ.
Mr. Apotheker said the state realizes it will take some time create new markets again, but getting back to 95 percent recovery is the goal of Oregon environmental officials.
"We want to get tire recovery increased, and we want to focus on sustainable markets that capture the full resource value of the material," Mr. Apotheker said. "We´ve got to get these tires out of a landfill. That´s just a wasted resource at any level."