AKRON, Ohio The scrap tire, one of
the nation's most perplexing waste material challenges, may soon only be
a memory, according to Goodyear engineers. This past year the scrap tire
reuse/recovery rate surpassed the recycling rate of aluminum cans and by
the year 2000 capacity will be available to consume all scrap tires generated
plus many of the stockpiled tires in the United States as fuel for the
production of electricity, cement, steel and paper.
This industrial achievement is attributable
in large part to the drive and vision of two Goodyear engineers and marketplace
technological advances. For the last seven years Andy Eastman, team leader
of engineering applications, and Jack Zimmer, a Goodyear business and technical
analyst, have worked to develop and grow markets to consume scrap tires.
Their primary focus has been on converting
tires to energy but additional markets divert approximately 18 percent
of scrap tires to other uses. The number of facilities utilizing scrap
tires for fuel is increasing. Each year there are new, viable, environmentally-sound
markets that did not exist the previous year.
"The horizon for the reuse/recovery
of scrap tires continues to expand. For example scrap tire piles in the
state of Oregon have been eliminated while the state of Illinois is now
in the position of importing scrap tires to feed its recovery capacity,"
Eastman observed. One facility in particular, Illinois Power in Baldwin,
Ill., has the capacity to consume eight million tires a year, which is
two percent of the plant's Btu fuel requirement.
For Zimmer the scrap tire project has
been a long progression of building understanding. "Once people became
aware that there is a world of difference between what they have seen of
tires burning in an open field and what actually happens in a controlled
situation such as a cement kiln we knew this would be successful," he said.
Recently they have been advancing efforts
to create an infrastructure to utilize scrap truck tires. Zimmer notes
that in comparison to an 18 pound passenger tire a truck tire weighs about
"Our requirements are now centered
around growing this market by seeking competitive uses for these tires
once they have entered the waste stream," Eastman said.
He noted the larger size and construction
of truck tires in comparison to passenger tires will present new challenges
for firms whose equipment is geared to handling the smaller tires. In light
of his team's reuse/recovery successes Zimmer cautions those who might
become tempted to view old tires as a resource, "Scrap tires are just that
scrap. Today consumers should expect to pay around $1 a tire to have them
hauled away. Outdoors they serve as a mosquito hatchery, and if ignited
while abandoned in a field the smoke and the mixture of oils is a safety
and environmental hazard," he said.
Goodyear's efforts to utilize scrap
tires began in the early 1970s. By 1985 only about 10 percent of the scrap
tires in the United States were used in some fashion. In 1995 that reuse/recovery
figure rose to 72 percent of the 253 million tires scrapped. By the end
of this year the reuse/recovery rate for scrap tires is expected to reach
"There are many other uses for scrap
tires that exist today and will evolve in the future, each should be explored,"