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Northern California's First Tire Recycling and Crumb Rubber Factory Opens

A STATE-OF-THE-ART tire recycling factory is the latest innovation at the Davis Street Transfer Station in San Leandro, Caifornia which two years ago began operating a futuristic wood processing system. The Davis Street site is a 53-acre recycling and transfer facility owned by Waste Management of Alameda County (WM).

The tire recycling project is being collaboratively built and operated by Waste Management and Bay Area Tire Recycling LLC (BATR) - a company created by B&W Environmental Solutions of San Francisco. B&W uses its patented machinery (known as the Link system) to remove steel from tires by "shaving" the steel off the rubber instead of cutting it. The Davis Street factory will use the mid-size Link system that can process 3,000 pounds of whole tires or tire chips containing steel per hour (500 tons a month). The primary shredder separates out the steel and makes 3/4 inch crumb for products such as playground and horse arena surfacing. The spring steel from the tires is removed with magnets and will be sold to steel mills to be made into rebar and other products. The crumb can be ground to #40 mesh rubber powder to be used for mats, mulches, soil amendments and other products. BATR was awarded a $150,000 grant from the Alameda County Source Reduction and Recycling Board to purchase a grinding tube and granulator to double the capacity of the factory's grinder.


Tom Padia, the source reduction and recycling director for the Alameda Board, reports his agency was contacted approximately a year ago by representatives from Waste Management. "They foresaw a problem with tire disposal because the tire to energy plant that had been burning the County's tires had been getting subsidies from utility companies, and the subsidies were due to expire. California has a ban on landfilling whole tires and we didn't want Alameda County to be dependent on the energy plant or the few cement kilns in the area for our only disposal options. We selected the BATR project for funding because they already had obtained zoning permits and had private capital funding. Kevin McCarthy, Waste Management division manager adds, "We got involved because our customers wanted us to be able to trulv recycle tires for a modest amount insteah of burying or burning them." BATR is providing the tire processing equipment and has a five-year contract with WM to operate the facility. WM is financing the construction of a 2,700-square-foot metal building in the middle of the transfer station to house the equipment. The companies are working together to market the rubber materials produced by the factory. "We first identified companies that currently buy crumb or ground rubber," says McCarthy. "We thought that we would have to do more market development but were surprised to find that there is a large base of companies out there already using crumb rubber to make products like playground matting. According to Larry Barnblatt, president of B&W Environmental Solutions, the factory will be a demonstration plant to show how tires can be recycled economically and show companies how to sell the recycled material."


BATR and WM are collecting tires for their facility from two different markets. BATR is obtaining higher quality tires from tire dealerships and automotive shops. WM currently collects 70 to 80 tons of scrap and junk tires a month from cleanup events. WM charges $150 to $200 per ton, depending on volumes and frequency. "We want all the tires that we can process," Barnblatt says. Waste Management will help with tire handling and collection. If a local municipality is doing a tire cleanup, Waste Management will pick them up on route or put a trailer on the site. The tire facility has three employees -- a manager who runs the business and two shop people who lay tires on an in feed conveyor and monitor the system. "We can save on energy, maintenance and labor because our system only requires two persons to monitor it and there is very little manual labor involved," notes Barnblatt. Each of the machines is run by individual computers, which are linked together through a main panel. "This is potentially a big new market for our company to enter and the Davis Street factory is a test case for our company to see if it is economically viable to recycle tires this way," says McCarthy. The factory has the capability of operating 16 hours a day. "We will have two shifts in operation within the year and handle 600,000 tires a year," he predicts.

See also
pr1 Northern California's 1st Tire Recycling and Crumb Rubber Factory to Open ... January 1998
pr2 WMI to build plant by Walt Wiley
pr3 Northern California's First Tire Recycling and Crumb Rubber Factory Opens
pr4 Bay Area Tire Recycling plans to open operation in East Bay by Alisa Roth - Business Writer


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