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EPA scraps scrap tire proposal in final rule

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On Feb. 23, 2011, the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced a final rulemaking that will preserve scrap tire markets. According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), it will ensure the continued success of its scrap tire management efforts.

The rule allows annually generated scrap tires that are removed from vehicles to be used as fuel by an industrial facility. Cement kilns, pulp and paper mills and electric utilities are the major users of tire derived fuel (TDF).

This is a major change from the proposed rule, in which the EPA recommended that annually generated tires be processed to remove the metal before being considered a fuel under the Clean Air Act. The RMA says that provision would have merely increased the energy consumption, air emissions and costs associated with delivering tire derived fuels to industrial customers -- without any environmental benefit.

“EPA clearly listened to the arguments advocated by RMA and other key stakeholders to deliver a rule that ensures continued improvement in scrap tire management efforts in the U.S.,” says Charles Cannon, RMA CEO and president. “While we are still analyzing several aspects of this final rule, the big picture is that this is a victory for the environment and for RMA’s scrap tire advocacy efforts."

The EPA still requires the processing of whole tires removed from historical scrap tire stockpiles. The RMA says it "continues to encourage EPA to consider a more expansive definition of 'processing' to allow these whole tires to be combusted as tire derived fuel."

The RMA has spearheaded efforts to promote the use of scrap tires as tire derived fuel, and has coordinated outreach, education and advocacy to the EPA and the states about the critical role tire derived fuel plays in managing scrap tires.

When the RMA began its scrap tire efforts in 1990, about 11% of scrap tires went to end-use markets, and one billion scrap tires were in stockpiles across the country.

Today, fewer than 100 million tires remain in stockpiles, and more than 80% of scrap tires are utilized in end-use markets. Tire derived fuel markets consume just over 50% of the scrap tires generated annually.

“Scrap tire markets are mature and stable; scrap tires are recognized as a valuable commodity and are used in a number of applications, including tire derived fuel,” says Cannon.

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