State ranks well for recycling, burning of old tires

Nebraska gets high marks for its handling of used motor vehicle tires. A study by the nation’s leading representative of tire manufacturers finds Nebraska is tops in several categories. Michael Blumenthal, vice president of the Rubber Manufacturers Association, says tire stockpiling is the only place there’s room for significant improvement.
“There are still some stockpiled tires in Nebraska,” Blumenthal says. “There are less than a million tires. They have cleaned up a good number of the larger piles. There are still some (piles) that do remain. We’re hopeful that over the course of the next couple of years, the state of Nebraska can see it’s way clear to fund the abatement of the remaining piles.”
He says Nebraska is essentially divided in two halves in terms of how it deals with its old tires. Blumenthal says, “The eastern part of the state, most of the tires are going either to be processed for higher end value products, or a lot of the tires are also going to be used as fuel in a cement kiln.”
Western Nebraska has a different demographic and there’s a much greater distance between population centers. It makes sense in the western half, he says, to use monofills, landfills made especially for — and only for — used tires.
“Virtually all the tires in the western portion of the state are being monofilled,” Blumenthal says. “Monofilling is not an end use market, it’s a means to manage tires. It’s a disposal option, but there’s no environmental downside to monofilling tires.”
As for eastern Nebraska, most of the old tires are ground up and used for playground cover, mulch or synthetic turf. Stockpiles of tires are the worst option, he says, as tire piles can be set on fire through arson or accident, while becoming breeding grounds for mosquitoes and rats.
Overall, he says Nebraska’s in good shape as about three in every four scrap tires are being recycled or burned as fuel.
“The state of Nebraska has their annual generation of tires being managed, which means that you’re not seeing any new tire piles being generated and the instance of tire dumping is rare,” Blumenthal says. “Sometimes it happens but it’s the exception as opposed to the rule.”
The report says Nebraska generates about 37-thousand tons of scrap tires every year. For more information, visit the Rubber Manufacturers Association website at: “www.rma.org”.