Kentucky Scrap Tire Markets Remain Focused

The Kentucky Environment and Energy Cabinet (EEC) said the state’s waste tire markets remained steady and stable in 2021 with a slight increase in the recycling rate and a stronger “than the national trend” performance in its tire derived fuel (TDF) market.

Reporting in its 2021 Waste Tire Program Annual Report, EEC said Kentucky’s total TDF consumption rebounded in 2021 and remained strong compared to many other regions of the country.

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TDF is one of the largest Kentucky markets.  At 27.9 percent, the state’s TDF market saw its numbers improve in 2021 and the market is expected to remain strong in 2022 . However, the TDF market is being negatively impacted in Kentucky, and nationally, by decreased solid fuel usage in general, increased competition from low cost natural gas, international manufacturing competition, and environmental regulations unfavorable to coal and other solid fuels like TDF.

kentucky-chartWith two major users Kosmos Cement and East Kentucky Power, Kentucky’s use of TDF increased by 16.2 percent  in 2021 in spite of the national trend.

The statewide recycling rate for tires was 78.4 percent for 2021 compared to 76.3 percent for 2020.

The ground rubber market has remained steady over time. Since 2004, the commonwealth has awarded 652 grants totaling close to $10 million, primarily to schools and municipalities, for projects using crumb rubber or other tire-derived products.

Manufacturing of ground rubber and mulch from Kentucky tires increased to 2.21 million PTEs in 2021. Among the state’s largest producers, the report names Liberty Tire Recycling, LLC, in Union County, which manufactures a large quantity of colored mulch for retail outlets including Lowes, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart. Dalton Tire Recycle, in Boyd County, produces ground rubber for playgrounds and horse arenas. Porter’s Tire and Auto Service, in Carter County, which initiated crumb rubber and rubber mulch production seven years ago.

Ground tire rubber used in rubber modified asphalt (RMA) continues to grow as an important market in Kentucky. The EEC promotes this type of asphalt as an additional option to increase scrap tire recycling and has offered an RMA grants since 2016. This grant is applied as a reimbursement to county or urban-county government recipients for paving a segment of roadway with RMA.

Since the RMA grants were initiated, the Waste Tire Trust Fund (WTTF)  has funded thirty-three different road projects reimbursing $2,731,526.56 to counties for RMA paving. In 2021, $502,497.00 was paid to reimburse six grant projects, which used 3,600 scrap tires. This grant is expected to continue in 2022.

According to the report, all RMA projects have passed tests in 2021 to meet existing Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) standard specifications. These tests, which compared RMA surfaces to conventional asphalt surfaces of similar area, included compaction density, asphalt content, voids, rutting, and performance grade (resistance to hot and cold weather under load).

Kentucky has developed two strong diverse markets, producing TDF and ground rubber products, which together provide an end use for approximately 61.9 percent of Kentucky’s waste tire generation.

However, developing civil engineering markets for shredded tires in highway construction, foundation backfill and similar projects could further enhance the diversity of Kentucky’s markets, providing constructive applications for shredded tires that are currently landfilled, the report said.

Recognizing that Kentucky is home to three major automotive manufacturers, the report suggests exploring the potential for the use of recycled tire rubber in molded automotive parts when considering possible new areas for growth in the state’s waste tire markets.

Another important role of the Kentucky Waste tire Program is support to counties in the collection and removal of waste tires and remediation of dumpsites.

During 2021, the EEC directly funded counties $2.5 million dollars for tire collection events that removed and recycled 1.3 million PTEs.  The EEC also spent $143,818.09 to clean up 52,197 PTEs collected from multiple tire dump sites.

In addition, the EEC provided direct grants to counties totaling $404,000. These County Tire Grants were used to recycle or dispose of 191,774 PTEs in 2021.

Overall, Kentuckians generated 51,600 tons (5.16 million PTEs) of waste tires in calendar year 2021, slightly less than the 53,900 tons (5.39 million PTEs) generated in 2020. Of note, in 2020, the state and counties handled 14.9 percent of the PTEs generated. The private sector handled the remaining 85.1 percent of waste tires. While, in 2021, the state and counties handled 25.6 percent of the PTEs generated. The private sector handled the remaining 74.4 percent of waste tires, according to the report.

© Scrap Tire News, April 2022