CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Sept. 17, 2004) — U.S. and Mexican environmental officials are discussing an agreement to develop a strategy for disposal and recycling of the 10 million-plus scrap tires along the two countries' borders. Meanwhile, a Mexican cement-making firm has agreed to begin burning scrap tires in one of its kilns.
The agreement between the U.S. and Mexico isn't specific regarding specific recycling methods or a timetable for action, said Willie Kelly, chief of the Solid Waste Division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region IV in Dallas. “It focuses on information and market development, working on stockpile abatement and public awareness,” he said.
Further talks will be held over the next few weeks, but there's no timetable for finishing the agreement, said Rick Picardi, senior policy advisor with the International Team at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Solid Waste.
Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua, a subsidiary of Mexican cement-making giant CEMEX S.A. de C.V., has signed an agreement with Mexican federal environmental officials and city executives of Ciudad Juarez to start using scrap tires at its kiln in Samalayuca, 25 miles south of Juarez.
Cementos de Chihuahua agrees to burn 800,000 tires a year for five years, and will spend $2.5 million to retrofit its Samalayuca kiln for the operation; in return, Juarez will pay Cementos de Chihuahua 31 cents for each tire it burns.
Ciudad Juarez has more than 5 million tires in its collection center alone, plus maybe 2 million more in illegal dumps, according to the Associated Press.
The agreement represents a step forward for the Mexican scrap tire situation, according to Michael Blumenthal, senior technical advisor to the Rubber Manufacturers Association. “This is exactly how we like to see a program start up—an established company using a lot of tires quickly in an economically and environmentally sound manner,” he said.