Alabama is well into the launch of the scrap tire law it passed in 2003, according to state officials involved with the program.
As of early December, Alabama had collected approximately $3.79 million for its scrap tire fund from the $1 fee on each new tire sold in the state, according to Larry Bryant, chief of the Solid Waste Branch of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). The state averages about $350,000 monthly in fee collections, he added.
The Alabama legislature approved the Alabama Scrap Tire Environmental Quality Act, including the $1 fee, in June 2003. The law called on ADEM to begin its scrap tire program on Oct. 1, 2004, although the agency's administrative code covering scrap tire receivers, transporters and processors became effective on Aug. 4.
Among other things, the law requires Alabama tire dealers to register with the state's Department of Internal Revenue as a collector of the fee, and for tire transporters and processors to obtain permits from the state.
So far about 50 transporters and 10 processors have received permits, according to Mr. Bryant. The Department of Internal Revenue said that 1,390 tire dealers had registered as collectors of the scrap tire fee as of early December.
ADEM estimates there are some 2,300 tire dealers in Alabama; nevertheless, Mr. Bryant said that so far he was satisfied with the rate of compliance.
``I would guess that most of the dealers who haven't registered are rather small,'' he said. ``They show up on our database, but they don't have the sales volume of the dealers who've already signed up.''
Jeri McCafferty, executive director of the Alabama Tire Dealers Association, did not return phone messages. But the association's Web site contains a number of links about the new scrap tire law, including a list of frequently asked questions and their answers.
Financial constraints prevented ADEM from hiring as many staffers for the scrap tire program as it wanted when it was hiring in August and September, Mr. Bryant said.
``We have only half of the staff we planned,'' he said. ``But we interviewed 73 people, and we hope to hire three more in the next month.''
The state has its work cut out for it in reducing the number of scrap tires within its borders. There are an estimated 20 million waste tires stockpiled in Alabama, with another 4.8 million generated annually. The biggest stockpile-and the one ADEM will target first-is the Four Star Wholesale site in Etowah County near Gadsden, with an estimated 5 million tires, Mr. Bryant said.
Despite the challenges to scrap tire abatement in Alabama, Mr. Bryant said he is confident his agency can meet them. ``If you can achieve a 75-percent recycling rate with a scrap tire program, you're doing real good,'' he said. ``We hope to get an 80- to 85-percent recycling rate.''