California’s Waste Tire Markets

The diversion rate for California waste tires was up in 2013 but markets remain a mixed bag. New market development initiatives are on tap to expand markets.

Tire recyclers, processors, product manufacturers, local and state regulators and other stakeholders got a glimpse of how California’s tire recycling market stacked up in 2013 and what the future may look like at the 2014 Tire Conference hosted by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) in Sacramento last month.

Eco Green Equipment

The well-attended event focused on opportunities and progress in several established CalRecycle grant programs, highlighted the use of tire derived material in its Green Roads program and rolled out a handful of new initiatives aimed at developing new tire derived products in the state. Watch for more about conference findings, results and presentations in future issues of Scrap Tire News.

In June, CalRecycle will release its 2013 California Waste Tire Report. For those attending the conference, Ed Boisson of Boisson Consulting presented a first look at preliminary waste tire market estimates and trends.

Looking at the big picture, Boisson said the state’s diversion rate for 2013 was tracking at 88.1% with reuse, ground rubber and civil engineering markets consuming 31.8% of the 45 million waste tires generated in California in 2013. Export, tire derived fuel (TDF) and alternate daily cover (ADC) markets accounted for 56.3%.

Tire reuse, including retreads and used tires was down from 2012 from a little over 7 million tires to slightly under 6 million. Boisson said increased competition and a change in collector strategies to pick off tires earlier in the collection stream were among the reasons for the dip in tire reuse.

Crumb rubber took the biggest hit in 2013, down 26%, from just over 10 million PTEs to slightly under 8 million PTEs between 2012 and 2013. Soft demand in the main crumb market segments (paving, turf and mulch) coupled with increased competitive pressure from crumb rubber imports from Canada, other states and Europe contributed to the sharp decline, leaving the 2013 crumb trend uncertain, Boisson said.

Civil engineering use down 25%–from about 570,000 PTEs to about 420,000– is expected to rebound in 2013 with five tire derived aggregate (TDA) landfill projects and two non-landfill (light rail) projects in progress. Alternate daily cover was up 18% over 2012 but expected to end flat in 2013.

Tire derived fuel, up 6% in 2013,–from about 7 million PTEs in 2012 to about 7.5 million PTEs– is expected to continue to rise in 2014. Boisson said four cement kilns in the state are current tdf users and all four want to increase their use of the fuel. California’s current and projected growth in TDF includes tire derived fuel that is produced in the state and exported to overseas – primarily Asian and Korean- fuel users.

After a dramatic rise in waste tire exports from 2007 to 2012, California’s export market is up slightly from 2012 from a little over 15 million PTEs to about 15.7 million PTEs with possible further growth in 2014. Exports, (used tires, waste tires and TDF), accounted for 35% percent of the state’s waste tires in 2013. Of note, Boisson said, six firms in currently export exclusively. Of the 138,000 tons of processed tdf produced in the state in 2013, 48,000 tons were exported.

Coming off a record low in 2012, disposal is up 63% at the state’s top four disposal sites. Boisson expects a possible decline in disposal in 2014. The recent fall and rise of disposal activity is largely tied to export market trends as well as the softening demand in the state’s major crumb rubber markets, Boisson said.

Looking forward, Boisson said established processors are adjusting operations to these new market realities and finding opportunities for both growth and profitability. But needs remain, he said. Sustained tire derived product (TDP) standards and quality initiatives are particularly important for ongoing development of new markets and expansion of existing ones, Boisson said.

© Scrap Tire News, May 2014