NHTSA backs RMA's petition for disposal of recalled tires

Order Reprints

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has sided with the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) on its petition for reconsideration addressing the disposal of recalled tires.

The RMA had urged the agency to allow the use of scrap tires resulting from a recall to be used in landfill construction projects. In answering RMA's petition, NHTSA agreed that the TREAD (Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation) Act's prohibition of landfilling recalled tires did not apply to landfill construction projects where scrap tires serve such purposes as fill and lining material.

The RMA says it believes that the agency's ruling is appropriate and will not hinder the growing market for scrap tires in landfill construction.

The final rule, as it appears in the Federal Register, is as follows.

Disposition of Recalled Tires

SUMMARY: This document responds to the Rubber Manufacturers Association's (RMA) Sept. 27, 2004, petition for reconsideration of the August 13, 2004, final rule addressing the disposal of

recalled tires. RMA requested that NHTSA reconsider a statement in the

preamble to the final rule that Section 7 of the Transportation Recall

Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act prohibits

the use of recalled tires in the construction of landfills. NHTSA has

decided that the TREAD Act does not prohibit the use of recalled tires in landfill construction.

The Act mandated, among other things, that a manufacturer's remedy program for recalled tires "include a plan addressing how to limit, to the extent reasonably within the control of the manufacturer, the disposal of replaced tires in landfills, particularly through

shredding, crumbling, recycling, recovery, and other alternative

beneficial non-vehicular uses."

To implement Section 7 of the TREAD Act, on Dec. 18, 2001, we

published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that, among other things,

would require manufacturer remedy programs to address how the manufacturer will limit the disposal of the recalled tires in landfills and instead channel them into positive categories of reuse. 66 FR 65165. RMA and the National Solid Waste Management Association (NSWMA) commented that certain States and local jurisdictions currently permit the use of scrap tires in landfills in certain applications like lining and engineering fill.

Accordingly, RMA asked NHTSA in its final rule to distinguish between the use of tires as landfill construction materials, which RMA argued was an alternative beneficial non-vehicular use encouraged under the statute, and the discarding of tires into landfills.

On Aug. 13, 2004, NHTSA published a final rule implementing

Section 7. 69 FR 50077. In the preamble, we rejected the request by RMA and NSWMA that we affirmatively authorize the use of scrap tires in landfills in the final rule.

On Sept. 27, 2004, RMA petitioned the agency to reconsider its

views. It asserted that Section 7's and the final rule's language addressed disposal of tires in landfills, and that use of tires in landfill construction does not meet this definition. The association

argued that this end-use application is considered in the scrap tire industry and market to be an "alternative beneficial non-vehicular use" specifically allowed and encouraged under the TREAD Act. In support of its petition, RMA provided a copy of its report, "U.S. Scrap Tire Markets, 2003 edition," which noted that the use of

shredded tires in landfill construction and operation was the fastest growing civil engineering application for scrapped tires.

RMA's petition presents the narrow question of whether Section 7 of the TREAD Act prohibits the use of recalled tires or parts thereof in landfill construction. We conclude that it does not. Section 7 employs the term "disposal," and also refers to beneficial non-vehicular uses. In the context of Section 7, disposal does not include the use of tires or parts thereof in landfill construction.

This notice is limited to Section 7 of the TREAD Act. Our interpretation of Section 7 does not limit how any Federal, State, or local regulatory authorities address replaced tires under the laws and regulations they administer. Moreover, NHTSA does not authorize or endorse the use of tires or parts thereof in landfill construction or any other particular application for scrapped tires.

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