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EPA decision: TDF use OK

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WASHINGTON—When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined in June 2011 that it would not regulate tire-derived fuel (TDF) as a hazardous waste, the tire industry breathed a sigh of relief.

That sigh seemed premature, however, when the EPA reopened its final rules on industrial boilers and Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incinerators (CISWI) in December 2011. That move carried the potential of TDF's being shunted onto the solid waste scrap heap, or at least being given short shrift compared with biomass and other alternative fuels.

But now the agency has issued a ruling that not only preserves the TDF market, it expands the list of scrap tires the EPA deems acceptable for use as TDF. The adjusted final rule is leaving the tire industry, if anything, even more relieved than it was 18 months ago.

“We're very pleased the EPA continues to recognize the important role TDF plays in the alternative fuel market,” Tracey Norberg, senior vice president and corporate counsel for the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) told Tire Business. In the June 2011 agency interpretation of the original March 2011 final rules, the EPA said that two sources of TDF would be considered fuel rather than solid waste. One was TDF from which all metal had been removed; the other was tires “obtained under approved tire management programs.”

The adjusted rules issued on the EPA website Dec. 20, 2012, expand the definition of “approved tire management programs.”

Before, approved programs were those that gathered post-consumer scrap tires under state scrap tire management laws or corporate management programs.

However, the new rules also explicitly allow the TDF use of tire makers' off-specification tires that were never used on vehicles, as well as their factory scrap. Also allowed are scrap tires obtained through “public collection program events,” such as state or municipal “scrap tire amnesties” and tire drives sponsored by private companies.

“People with tires in their yards and garages may bring them in, and they will be deemed acceptable as TDF,” Ms. Norberg said.

In its technical overview of the adjusted final rules, the EPA said its adjustments were designed to reflect the real-world performance of industrial boilers and incinerators and allow for dramatic cuts in implementation costs, while still conveying significant public health benefits.

The agency estimated health benefits of $13 to $29 for every dollar spent on compliance with the rule.

The adjusted final rules have not yet been published in the Federal Register, meaning there is as yet no effective date for them.

To reach this reporter: mmoore@; 202-662-7211.
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