U.S. Tire Industry Advocating Sustainable Infrastructure Policies

US Tire Manufacturers Association identifies six policy areas in letter to Congress. TIA calls for funding and consumer education

Recognizing several provisions in the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that would advance scrap tire markets and improve the resiliency of the nation’s infrastructure, the US Tire Manufacturers Association has identified six specific policy proposals—ranging from tax incentives to additional research dollars and procurement commitments—that will strengthen the American tire industry and help the country develop roadways with the future in mind.

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Calling it a” once-in-a-generation opportunity”  to truly transform the country’s infrastructure by focusing on shared priorities, USTMA president and CEO Anne Forristall Luke said ” the tire industry is ready to lead, with innovative technologies that not only improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles but also enhance the performance and durability of the nation’s roadways”.

“By embracing these new technologies, we can create highly resilient infrastructure capable of carrying our nation well into the future, while bolstering the American tire industry and propelling the United States as a leader in tire technology research,” she said.

Forristall Luke is not alone in calling on lawmakers to consider the role tires and tire recycling play in building a sustainable infrastructure for the nation’s transportation network.

The Tire Industry Association (TIA) and its members were early supporters of the Infrastructure Investments Act, and they applaud passage of the bill, TIA CEO Dick Gust said.

When TIA re-energized its Environmental Advisory Council , the mission was clear: “To identify recycled manufactured products and environmentally sustainable practices within the tire and rubber industry and promote them through outreach (community, industry, stakeholder) and education.”

This mission applies today, as TIA offers their expertise to Congress on responsible tire recycling opportunities found within the infrastructure package. According to Roy Littlefield IV, TIA Director of Government Affairs, “TIA for decades has advocated for the responsible use of rubber modified asphalt (RMA) and tire derived aggregate (TDA).”

“Through direct meetings and letters, TIA continues to educate members of Congress on the importance of circular and sustainable scrap tire markets. Included in the infrastructure package were provisions of the RECYCLE Act, which will help provide grants via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help educate households and consumers about their residential and community recycling programs to improve participation and reduce contamination. The infrastructure package sets aside $350 million for recycling purposes. TIA is working to ensure that these funds help to advance scrap tire markets,” Gust said.

Moving forward TIA will continue to work to secure funding for the infrastructure package sufficient to increase tire recycling projects and to strengthen the circular economy, Gust said.

The six policy areas identified in USTMA’s letter to Congressional leadership, clearly identify areas of opportunities:

1. Investments for the research and integration of rubber modified asphalt (RMA) to advance infrastructure projects.

2. Research investments for tire derived aggregate (TDA) in stormwater infiltration galleries. TDA used in stormwater infiltration galleries allow for cost savings when compared to traditional mined minerals.

3. Research investments for stormwater runoff and roadway runoff mitigation efforts. USTMA is encouraging additional research to assess stormwater runoff from roadways to increase the state of knowledge on constituents in roadway runoff, the potential impact of roadway runoff on the environment, and effective strategies to treat roadway runoff.

4. Incentives for the use and manufacturing of retreaded tires. Each retreaded tire reduces energy consumption, CO2 emissions, raw material usage, and tire disposal challenges and creates local job opportunities. Despite these advantages, retreading of commercial tires has steadily decreased over the last 25 years, due primarily to cheap foreign alternatives, which are 65 percent less likely to be retreaded because of their design and construction.

5. Incentives for the use of low rolling resistance tires for public and private use. A 1-2 percent increase in the fuel economy of passenger and light truck vehicles through the use of low rolling resistance tires would save about 1 billion to 2 billion gallons of fuel per year of the 130 billion gallons consumed by all consumer vehicles.

6. Federal fleet management policy that ensures 100 percent of tires in the federal fleet enter circular and sustainable scrap tire markets.

Forristall Luke sees tire dealers as key partners in USTMA’s efforts to make sure provisions in the infrastructure bill are realized to their full potential and is working with TIA’s new leadership.  “TIA and its tire dealer members have tremendous networks in the states,” she said in a recent interview. “Scrap tire market development is primarily driven at the state level, so forming partnerships to help build those new sustainability frameworks is going to be important for us,” she said.

To help legislators, the tire industry and consumers better understand the many environmental terms legislators are faced with, TIA’s Environmental Advisory Council introduced an easy-to-use glossary of key reference terms and definitions used in the tire and rubber recycling industry. According to Roy Littlefield IV, “the glossary has helped legislators better understand our industry and furthered discussions for scrap tires and rubber recycling opportunities.”

Last year, USTMA partnered with the University of Missouri and The Ray, a nonprofit proving ground for sustainable transportation technologies to develop and publish a state of knowledge report that assessed existing research on the economic, performance and

environmental benefits of using ground tire rubber in asphalt. The report finds that rubber modified asphalt is a resilient pavement solution to rebuild America’s roadways and a promising sustainable and circular end-of-life market for scrap tires and

For both USTMA and TIA, it’s these kinds of initiatives that show the sustainability maturity of the US tire industry, both in its commitment to developing sustainable practices that create long-term value for America’s infrastructure and in putting that commitment into action.

© Scrap Tire News, March 2022