Florida On-Track With Scrap Tire Management

The Florida waste tire management program has made exceptional progress, according to the latest Waste Tires in Florida report from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

In 2008, almost 92 percent of the 19.5 million waste tires generated in Florida were constructively utilized in diverse applications, compared to virtually no usage in 1990.

Eldan Recycling

The new report (covering 2010) provides summaries of Florida’s diverse markets noting changes and anomalies in certain markets. For example,the use of tire shreds in septic tank drain fields which showed growth earlier is declining, while high fuel prices attracted more tire fuel use in new and retrofitted cement kilns, waste-to-energy facilities, and power boilers, with additional growth probable.

The use of scrap tires as a supplemental fuel source consumed 49.9 percent of Florida’s waste tire generation in 2010, Ten waste-to-energy facilities consume tires to enhance their combustion temperature control and/or optimize electricity generation.

In addition, cement kilns,pulp and paper mills and other industrial facilities are utilizing tires as fuel within Florida making fuel use the largest market for scrap tires in Florida. Florida utilized an estimated 7,260,000 waste tires in crumb rubber applications during 2010, representing 37.7 percent of total generation.

Playground surfacing, both loose-fill and poured-in-place, is a significant use of crumb rubber in Florida. In addition, innovative athletic fields utilizing crumb rubber within artificial turf surfaces remain substantial, although there was a slight decline in 2010 due to decreased public spending on facilities. Crumb rubber is also used for soil modification to decrease compaction and enhance drainage on sports fields and other high-traffic grassed areas. Florida producers have significantly increased sales of crumb rubber to regional manufacturers of molded rubber products, such as tiles and mats.

Another major market for crumb rubber in Florida is asphalt modification, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) contractors purchased about 19,000 tons of crumb rubber in 2010 from Florida producers as part of the interlayer, friction course and crack sealants used in roadway construction and maintenance. Manufacturing crumb rubber for this market consumes about 530,000 tires. Florida was the only state that specified rubber modified asphalt (RMA) for friction course pavement on all state-maintained roads, but polymers have displaced crumb rubber in some road classes. DOT is continuing a detailed research program that could reverse this decline and increase crumb rubber usage through substitution of polymer/crumb rubber blends.

Florida has been one of the pioneers in large-scale use of shredded tires as a replacement for natural soil and aggregate in civil engineering applications such as landfill drainage layers, methane gas collection systems, and septic system drainage trenches. These uses consumed approximately 480,000 tires, or about 2.5 percent, of Florida’s waste tires in 2010. Tire chips have become a proven, technically acceptable material for these applications, but market volume for tire chips is dependent on comparative economics and new landfill cell construction. Use of tire chips as daily cover continues to decline as higher value uses expand.

While the Department continues to explore methods of encouraging and accelerating additional market development to achieve full utilization of its scrap tire resources, for the first time the state reported export as a diversion route for the state’s annually generated scrap tires. In 2010, the report estimated 400,000 PTEs were collected, baled and exported from Florida through Vietnam to China, reportedly for conversion to diesel fuel in rural areas using crude pyrolysis technology that produces gross environmental contamination. The report further noted that export volumes appeared to be expanding rapidly in 2011, decreasing availability of tires for established local processors and markets.

Waste tire stockpiles have been reduced by more than 15 million tires through persuasion of site owners, financing of county abatement actions, or abatement under department contracts. With continuing permitting and enforcement activity on both state and local levels, few new stockpiles have been created and existing stockpiles are continuing to be abated. Stockpiles have declined dramatically over the years, with the current list of known stockpiles containing approximately 32,000 waste tires, with the exception of the Osborne Reef site, which is an ongoing project to remove nearly a million tires from the sea floor. The Department is continuing its efforts to identify and abate all remaining stockpiles, the report concluded.

© Scrap Tire News, February 2012