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A newsletter of the Department of Environmental Protectionís Northcentral Regional Office
Volume 4, Number 1, 1998


SCRAP TIRES...WASTE OR BENEFICIAL USE?

          In the past, scrap tires were a waste stream with which no one really wanted to deal. Landfills didn't want them because they would not stay buried or decay. Thousands of tires would end up in unsightly piles and become health and environmental hazards.

        A recent initiative by DEP promotes the reuse/recycle concept to address the scrap tire generation problem. This initiative is the Beneficial Use Permit Program which allows tires to be used as fuel at approved facilities, as civil engineering or construction material and as feed stock in the manufacturing of consumer products.

        One Columbia County facility permitted for the beneficial use of tires is Grace's Future Block. At this facility, the operator uses a hydraulic compressor to band together a number of tires, places the banded tire bundle in a form and then pours concrete into the form to create blocks. Once cured, these blocks fit together and can be used in the construction of retaining walls, side walls, fencing, etc. There are many other potential uses for these blocks.

         Other uses for scrap tires or tire-derived materials include artificial reefs for marine life habitat, athletic surfaces, play areas, landfill liner protection, sheet rubber from manufacturing facilities and bulking agents in composting operations. Scrap tire rubber has also been used for energy recovery and as fuel in cement kilns, in power generation and in paper pulp industries. There are also incentives such as funding from the Pennsylvania Grants Program that can be used to clean up existing tire piles.

        The way we view scrap tires has changed dramatically just in the last few years. Pennsylvania industry and DEP are continuing to look at new waste reduction methods, incentives and beneficial use technologies. For more information on the reuse/recycling of tires, contact the Waste Management program at 717-327-3758. (contributed by Joe Figured, Sanitary Engineer III)

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