According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generate approximately 290 million scrap tires annual. Historically, these scrap tires took up space in landfills or provided breeding grounds for mosquitoes and rodents when stockpiled or illegally dumped.
However, that is now turning around. Markets now exist for over 80 percent of those scrap tires – up from 17 percent in 1990. These markets – both recycling and other beneficial uses – continue to grow. The remaining scrap tires are still stockpiled or dumped in landfills, however.
In 2003, the EPA reports markets for scrap tires were consuming 233 million of them:
• 130 million (44.7 percent) are used as fuel
• 56 million (19.4 percent) are recycled or used in civil engineering projects
• 18 million (7.8 percent) are converted into ground rubber and recycled into products
• 12 million (4.3 percent) are converted into ground rubber and used in rubber-modified asphalt
• 9 million (3.1 percent) are exported
• 6.5 million (2.0 percent) are recycled into cut/stamped/punched products
• 3 million (1.7 percent) are used in agricultural and miscellaneous uses
Another 16.5 million scrap tires are retreaded. About 27 million scrap tires (9.3 percent) are estimated to be disposed of in landfills or monofills.
These are some staggering numbers. Fortunately, we are finding more and more ways to deal with the problem.
So, it was fitting and proper that as the nation celebrated Earth Day Monday, Barton County took a step closer to being on the cutting edge of this tire recycling bonanza. The County Commission gave its blessing to Resource Management Company Inc., a Ness County waste tire processing firm that will be doing business with tire recycler Blizzard Energy near the Great Bend Municipal Airport.
Between the two companies, tons of discarded tires will be retreaded, shredded or otherwise reused each day. Both businesses are looking to expand should the need exist.
Now that officials are assured RMC and Blizzard will meet county and state environmental regulations, it is time to welcome them to our community. Both companies seem to have forward-thinking leadership that may add an interesting facet to our local economy.