HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — Recycling's role in the tire industry's journey toward sustainability stood front and center at the recent Rubber Recycling Symposium, organized and hosted by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC) in Halifax.
Called "Journey to Sustainability" in the tire industry, the two-day symposium not only examined sustainable materials used in the tire-making process, but also looked at the advantages and challenges of end-of-life (ELT) tire solutions, such as rubber-modified asphalt; rubber molded products; synthetic turf infill; and tire-derived fuel.
John Sheerin and Tracey Norberg, both longtime executives with the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA), were among the featured speakers during the event, held Oct. 4-5 at the Lord Neslon Hotel and Suites in downtown Halifax.
Roughly 100 delegates attended the biennual event, held for the first time since 2018 after the 2020 and 2022 events were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This symposium marked the first overseen by TRAC CEO and President Carol Hochu, who succeeded the retired Glenn Maidment as president in 2020.
Presenters discussed the push/pull dilemma that industry stakeholders encounter in their quest for sustainability and recycling.
Sheerin, director end-of-life (ELT) programs for the USTMA, was among three speakers who discussed end-producer responsibility (EPR) programs for tires globally.
Sheerin examined USTMA's role in sustainability in the U.S., and in particular, the extended producer responsibility legislation for tires recently enacted in Connecticut, the first of its kind in the U.S.
The legislation mandates that all tire "producers" must join a tire stewardship organization (TSO) by Jan. 1, 2025, and stewardship organizations must submit a detailed operating plan in collaboration with stakeholders."
"Virtually all end-of-life tires in Connecticut are managed already," Sheerin said. "We have no data to support the magnitude of illegal dumping there."
Sheerin cited several USTMA concerns about the legislation. Among them: Fee collection and enforcement; plan implementation timelines; illegal dumping is not addressed; performance and program goals; and the definition of a "tire" and "discarded tire."
Other panelists were Fredrik Ardefors, CEO of the Swedish Tyre Recycling Organization; and Lina Goodman, CEO of Tyre Stewardship Australia.
Sheerin also moderated a panel on the second day on market development opportunities for ELT. The panelists were Redmond Clark of CBL Industrial Services; Peter Schroedter, principal of Off the Road Recycling; Paul Downey, CEO of Pliteq Inc., which reuses rubber waste to engineer products; and Bob Cumming, head of sustainability/public affairs at Lafarge Canada Inc.
Norberg, USTMA senior vice president and general counsel, discussed the tire industry's challenge with the tire compounding additive 6ppd during a session that examined legislative bills and bans.
6ppd, a chemical compound that dates back to the 1950s and '60s, is used in rubber compounding for tires in order to resist degradation and cracking, characteristics that are "vital for driver and passenger safety," Norberg said.
Researchers at the University of Washington identified a transformation product called 6PPD-quinone, concluding it is toxic to coho salmon and may be the source of urban-runoff mortality syndrome in this species. Earlier studies of 6PPD transformation products had not identified this substance.
"Without the use of high-performing protection materials such as 6ppd, tires can crack and degrade rapidly, leading to possible catastrophic failure," she said.
The USTMA, she said, is continuing to engage with researchers and stakeholders for a solution, without compromising driver safety. The organization has partnered with the California Department of Toxic Control (DTSC) to continue to evaluate and research the issue.
Alex Van Gelderen, manager ELT and circularity for the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers Association, also spoke during the session.
A second-day panel, which examined driving sustainability in tire manufacturing, featured representatives from three tire manufacturers: moderator and presenter Maureen Kline, vice president, public affairs and sustainability for Pirelli Tire North America Inc; Derek Bradeen, global business model leader, retreading and recycling, Michelin North America (Canada) Inc; and Jay Spears, director of standards and regulations, Continental Tires the Americas L.L.C.
Nick Santero, leading sustainability science for original equipment electric vehicle maker Rivian Automotive Inc., also was part of the panel.
Representatives from Bridgestone Americas Inc., Goodyear and Yokohama also were among the attendees.
Larisa Kryachkova, executive director of the Tire Industry Project (TIP) of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, delivered the keynote address virtually from Paris.
Kryachkova presented an overview of TIP and discussed its objectives as a stakeholder in the tire industry.