California Markets Hold Steady

New vision statement focuses on expanded incentives to drive markets

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery(CalRecycle) held its annual Waste Tire Conference in Sacramento in August showcasing both the current status of California’s Waste Tire Markets and its outlook for the future.

CalRecycle’s goals and strategies have evolved steadily over the years creating perhaps the best funded and most expansive waste tire market development program in the nation, Ed Boisson of Boisson Consulting said in his opening update of California’s Waste Tire Markets. While, currently the department is focused on expanding and diversifying waste tire recycling through reuse, crumb rubber and civil engineering, Boisson said CalRecycle’s new incentive payment-based vision for scrap tire market development outlined in the agency’s latest Five-Year Tire Plan is the wild card.

In presenting a snapshot of California’s current markets, Boisson said that for the first time California’s Waste Tire Market Report included both a waste tire diversion rate (including all uses outside landfill disposal) and a waste tire recycling rate defined to exclude exports, alternative daily cover and tire-derived fuel. Based on this definition the recycling rate was 38.5 %, down slightly from 2013 while the overall waste tire diversion rate was estimated at 85.9 %, down from 87.3 % in 2013.

Tire reuse including retreads and used tires was up about 5% in 2014. This includes used tires sold both domestically and internationally. The reuse market remains strong but increases in imported tires that may not meet U.S. standards could affect the reuse market.

Production of crumb rubber was down by an estimated 8 percent in 2014, using 7.3 million PTE. Boisson said the main reason for the decline in production was a low to flat demand for crumb rubber in the major markets in 2014. Other factors included reduced allocation of grant funds and local budget constraints. While the market remains uncertain for 2015, some are looking to new product development and feedstock conversion as important opportunities to strengthen crumb rubber markets.

Civil engineering applications for shredded tires were up 177 percent in 2014 to 1.3 million PTE. The outlook for 2015 is for continued increases in total use and in the number of projects using TDA both for landfill projects mainly involving gas collection systems and for non-landfill projects involving lightweight fill, vibration dampening in light rail systems, storm water management and other engineering projects.

In 2014, four landfills reported they used a total of 1.5 million (15,000 tons) of tire shred as alternate daily cover (ADC); a 19% increase from the three landfills that reported using about 1.2 million PTE in 2013.

Tire derived fuel (TDF) continues to be a strong steady market in California that thrives without government support, Boisson said. In 2014, four California cement kilns consumed 8.4 million California PTE, 2 percent more than in 2013. These plants also used an additional 462,000 PTE supplied by California processors but imported from outside the state. TDF markets are expected to grow by 600,000 PTE in 2015, Boisson said.

Waste tire disposal increased in 2014 by 17 percent compared to 2013, from 5.3 million PTE to 6.3 million PTE. Operational disruptions at one of the state’s large processors and a shift in export volumes caused some processors to dispose an increased portion of their tires.

In 2014, 7.4 million PTE of processed TDF and 3.6 million PTE of waste tire bales were exported. Prior to 2014, these categories were combined. An estimated 1.8 million PTE of culled, used tires were also exported in 2014, 38 percent higher than in 2013. For 2015 growth in the export markets is expected to be mixed with the overall trend tracking slightly downward, Boisson said.

In another first California’s 2014 waste tire market report includes information on buffings generated by retread operations. More than 9,700 tons (19.4 million pounds) are being used or brokered by California processors. Much of this material, Boisson said, is used to a degree in all crumb rubber segments and likely accounts for some decrease in the amount of crumb rubber being used.

Looking forward, the general outlook for California markets is mixed. With reuse holding steady and relatively moderate growth in civil engineering and molded products expected, recycling growth depends on sustained turf volumes and growth in California’s paving market, Boisson said. Increases in export, TDF and civil engineering markets also appear likely to boost overall diversion, barring a significant decline in crumb rubber, Boisson concluded.

© Scrap Tire News, November 2015