DEARBORN, Mich.-Ford Motor Co. still is deciding how it will handle the collection, disposal or recycling of the 13 million Firestone Wilderness AT tires it has chosen to replace on its vehicles.
The company had not yet provided a comprehensive plan to its 3,500 Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealerships on what to do with the tires, a Ford spokeswoman said. The lack of a plan, however, didn't seem to bother some dealerships that already are replacing tires from vehicles on their lots and collecting and replacing tires for customers.
Clarke Ford, a dealership in Hudson, Ohio, is puncturing all Firestone tires it handles and will wait until Ford makes a decision on how its dealerships should dispose of or recycle the scrap tires, said Bob Kline, assistant manager of the service department. Though the dealership could collect 2,000 or more tires during the recall, collecting and disposing of them will not be an issue.
``We've got a pretty big lot, so there's really no problem storing the tires,'' Mr. Kline said.
Last summer, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s disposal plan for its recall of 6.5 million tires involved shredding them into crumb rubber or burning them as fuel.
A spokeswoman from BFS' headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., said that the tire maker won't take part in any aspect of Ford's replacement plan.
``Hopefully, we can do some good for the customers and they'll perceive it that way,'' said Carl Bujorian, service director for Klaben Ford Inc. in Kent, Ohio. ``Hopefully, a lot of people see it as a good, positive step forward rather than something that Ford's begrudgingly doing.''
Ford advised the Kent dealership to use its normal disposal channels for now, Mr. Bujorian said. Klaben, which plans to rent a roll-off container to store the Firestone tires, already is checking out waste haulers and tire processing companies to make sure those companies are properly permitted and licensed. The dealership went through the same process last year during the Firestone recall when it collected heavy volumes of tires.
``We just had to call them up today and say, `Here we go again,''' he said.
Consumer advocacy groups, which had pushed for a wider recall, are concerned about the fate of the replaced tires. They must be destroyed to avoid finding their way back to the road, said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, in Washington. The advocacy group also would like to see the tires recycled properly so they don't create more problems.
However, the large volume of scrap tires entering the waste stream from Ford's recall may not be a problem, said John R. Serumgard, chairman of the Scrap Tire Management Council in Washington. The recalled tires will represent less than 5 percent of the 280 million scrap tires in the waste stream, he said. However, the speed with which Ford deals with the situation could cause a backup.
``Supposedly, they're going to push this through rather rapidly,'' Mr. Serumgard said.
Ford is replacing all 15-, 16- and 17-inch Firestone Wilderness AT tires on Ford Explorers, Rangers, Expeditions and F-Series pickups. The auto maker is concerned that some of the tires, though not affected by last year's recall, could experience similar tread separation problems.