Ontario tire manufacturers, dealers and processors-as well as environmentalists and the general public-have until Feb. 14 to make their feelings known about the proposed Ontario tire stewardship plan posted on the Ontario Ministry of the Environment Web site.
Ontario Tire Stewardship-the government-established board that created the plan for the Ministry-calls the proposal ``an innovative, results-based waste diversion program.''
But an environmental group, the Toronto Environmental Alliance, objects to the inclusion of tire-derived fuel (TDF) in the program. Allowing TDF means that cement kilns and other companies are ``financially rewarded for polluting the environment,'' according to Gord Perks, senior campaigner for the alliance.
While Ontario generates about 10.8 million scrap highway tires annually-approximately 30 to 35 percent of Canada's total-it hasn't had a scrap tire law on the books since 1993, when the provincial government repealed an unpopular program.
In 2002, the Ontario Parliament passed the Waste Diversion Act, which among other things created Ontario Tire Stewardship. Comprised of various stakeholders in the Ontario tire industry including manufacturers, dealers and association officials, the committee was charged with writing a draft tire stewardship plan for the province.
Last year it submitted its draft to Waste Diversion Ontario, the non-government corporation that oversees the design and implementation of the province's waste abatement programs. WDO approved the report Sept. 15 and sent it on to the Ministry, which posted it on its Web site for public comment Dec. 16.
The keystone of the stewardship proposal is a $3.20 Tire Stewardship Fee on each new passenger or light truck tire sold in Ontario; for commercial truck tires, the fee goes up to $4.80. The money would fund research and development projects to develop and expand the range of value-added uses for scrap tires and also to promote scrap tire processing companies within the province.
Among other provisions, the proposal contains a five-year plan to eliminate the estimated 5-6 million tires stockpiled in Ontario ``through a process that could include Tire-Derived Fuel application,'' as the Ministry Web site states. This is the crux of the Toronto Environmental Alliance's objections.
Glenn Maidment, chairman of Ontario Tire Stewardship and president of the Rubber Association of Canada, said the alliance's opposition is wrongheaded.
``In our plan, we go to great lengths to create a hierarchy of recycling,'' Mr. Maidment said. ``But what do you do with stockpiled tires? They're weathered, oxidized and dirty, and rubber processors don't want them.''
Mr. Perks noted that the Ministry has a number of questions about the stewardship plan on its Web site, with spaces for the public to comment on each one. One question notes that the Waste Diversion Act forbids any burning of waste, and asks whether the tire stewardship plan should make an exception and pay incentive fees to burn tires as fuel.
``We hope the public does come forward with the view that burning tires is not a good idea,'' he said.
After the public comment period is over, it probably will take months for the Ministry to come out with its final decision, according to Mr. Maidment. It must compile the responses and go back to Ontario Tire Stewardship for answers to the questions raised by them, he said.