A scrap tire recyler has teamed up with the King County (Wash.) Department of Natural Resources and Parks/Solid Waste Division (DNR) to try to develop markets for used tires.
L&S Tire Co. of Spokane, Wash., will evaluate the feasibility of entering the tire-derived fuel and crumb rubber markets with the help of the county, which will provide business planning and market development assistance to the firm, according to L&S Vice President Mike Lavelle.
The company, founded in 1999 by Mr. Lavelle and his partners, Scott Sander and Dan Patterson, collected more than 1.5 million scrap tires in 2001 from Washington and parts of Oregon and Idaho.
Most of those tires were landfilled, Mr. Lavelle said. L&S does supply some tires to cement kilns and has baled tires for tugboat bumpers, but the firm now wants to recycle most of the tires it collects.
``(The county is) helping us get to the next level so that we do more recycling,'' Mr. Lavelle explained. ``We're doing a certain amount of recycling but the goal here is to do 100-percent recycling.''
King County, in which Seattle is located, sponsors a 2-year-old recycling program called LinkUp that uses a team of contracted specialists to provide customized technical and marketing expertise to manufacturers that use recycled materials in their products, said Erv Sandlin, the DNR's program manager for LinkUp.
``We put together a team of professional consultants who work directly with that company and provide assistance,'' he said. ``The county pays the bill, so it's not actually the county trying to go out there and do the hands-on work in these areas. It's really people who know what they're doing, depending on what kind of assistance is needed.''
When L&S approached King County's DNR about joining LinkUp, the firm was the first tire-related company willing to participate in the program, Mr. Sandlin said.
``We were eager to work with someone who might be looking at the potential for diverting more scrap tires from our waste stream and into some recycling markets,'' he said. ``In this case, we hope (it's) crumb rubber.''
He noted that most of Washington's scrap tire piles have been cleaned up, but the state is still lagging behind in creating recyclable products for scrap tires. About 5 million to 6 million scrap tires are generated each year in the state.
``The situation in the state of Washington is that there is very little recycling of scrap tires,'' Mr. Sandlin said. ``Most of it is being landfilled. We don't have any crumb rubber manufacturing in the state.''
L&S picks up scrap tires from dealerships, tire piles, local governments and transfer stations, Mr. Lavelle said. The firm posted about $750,000 in sales for the first half of 2002, already exceeding its total 2001 sales of approximately $600,000, he said.
Mr. Lavelle attributed the sales jump to increased business, including charging tire dealers a tipping fee of $1.05 per tire, selling used tires and wheels, and recycling steel wheels. L&S employs 23.