Report Ranks States on Scrap Tire Progress, Finds More Tires Put to New Uses

A report released on Dec. 5 by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) finds that nearly 87 percent of disposed tires each year are put to a new use. In 1990, only 11 percent of scrap tires was consumed by a market. Additionally, the number of tires sitting in stockpiles shrunk to 188 million from 275 million in 2003. More than 1 billion scrap tires were stockpiled in 1990.

RMA, which represents tire manufacturers, ranked states by their overall performance in dealing with scrap tire issues and how states improved since the previous scrap tire report in 2003.

South Carolina, North Carolina and Maine lead the nation in a performance ranking of dealing with scrap tires. Rankings are based on percent of tires going to end-use markets, number of stockpiled tires, stockpiled tires per capita, number of tires land-disposed and the percent of the number of tires/per capita land-disposed in 2005.

Texas, Alabama, Michigan and Ohio were on top in improving the scrap-tire situation in 2005 as compared to 2003.

"Tire manufacturers have been working hard for 16 years to promote environmentally and economically sound solutions to reduce scrap-tire waste," said Michael Blumenthal, RMA senior technical director. "Additionally, states' scrap-tire cleanup laws and regulations and market development efforts have substantially reduced the nation's scrap tire piles."

RMA's report, based upon a comprehensive survey of state scrap-tire and solid-waste officials and industry participants, finds that 259 million of 299 million scrap tires generated in 2005 went to an end-use market.

The largest markets for scrap tires include:

  • Ground rubber -- One of the largest markets for scrap tires is ground rubber, which consumed more than 30 million tires in 2005. Ground rubber is used in athletic and recreational surfaces, rubber-modified asphalt, carpet underlay, flooring material, dock bumpers and railroad crossing blocks.
  • Civil engineering -- Projects such as road and landfill construction, septic tank leach fields and other construction applications consumed nearly 50 million tires. Tires add positive properties in these applications such as vibration and sound control, lightweight alternatives to prevent erosion and landslides and drainage in leachate systems.
  • Tire-derived fuel (TDF) -- TDF is the leading use of scrap tires, especially as a supplemental fuel for cement kilns, electric utilities and pulp and paper mills. TDF use has increased almost 20 percent to 155 million scrap tires since 2003.

Since 1990, the number of scrap tires in stockpiles has been reduced by 81 percent. Of the remaining stockpiles, 85 percent are concentrated in seven states: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. Alabama and New York recently have begun efforts to cleanup existing stockpiles.

In previous scrap tire market reports, RMA listed information only in millions of tires. This year, RMA added a weight category. Many other industries use weight when calculating reuse or recycling of waste materials. Under this measurement, 82 percent of scrap tires were used in a market application. The slightly smaller percentage is due to the varying sizes of tires which range from typical passenger-size tires weighing about 22.5 pounds to large commercial truck tires that can weigh more than 100 pounds.

The 2005 U.S. Scrap Tire Markets report is the eighth biennial report researched and published by RMA. For additional information, contact RMA at

This article originally appeared in the 12/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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