Shredded tires going to landfill; Recyclers say there are better uses

Up to twenty-thousand tonnes of rubber will hit the road for Chatham-Kent later this month. As many as two million scrap tires from one of the largest stockpiles in Ontario are being shredded on Manitoulin Island and will be trucked to the Ridge Landfill. The pieces will be used to cover daily deposits at the private landfill near Charing Cross. They’re going to a landfill even though several recycling companies need scrap tires for more beneficial uses, said Glenn Maidment, chairman of the Ontario Tire Stewardship. The stewardship is a non-profit industry board that promotes recycling tires and keeping them from landfills. “There is no question there is a shortage of material in the province these days,” Maidment said, “and some of those tires could well have gone for that purpose if somebody had contacted them.” He’s heard from companies that wanted some of the tires. Empire Recycling & Disposal won the $4-million contract from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to remove the tires from the Zhiibaahaasing First Nation on Manitoulin Island. No other recycling firms have requested tires from Empire, vice-president Mike Vagi said. “We’ve offered it basically to anyone,” he said, adding, “we’re willing to work with any and all recyclers.” Recycled rubber has many uses, including shingles, safety cones, blasting mats, car parts, and rubberized asphalt for playgrounds and running tracks. Shredded tires can also be burned in cement kilns for tire-derived fuel. Almost any use is better than daily cover in landfills, said Glenda Gies, executive director of Waste Diversion Ontario. “It’s a lower-value use,” Gies said. “It doesn’t lend itself to being recycled yet again.” Once the shredded tires are in a landfill, they’ll stay there. But if the tires were turned into mats, for example, they could be recycled again later. Ontario is the only province without a recycling program for scrap tires. The Ontario Tire Stewardship and Waste Diversion Ontario, an arm’s-length government agency, created a scrap tire diversion plan in 2004 that hasn’t been implemented by Queen’s Park. Their program included a hierarchy of uses for scrap tires. “Landfill cover would rate near the bottom of that hierarchy, which probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise for you,” Maidment said. “But it still is a legitimate recycling option.” The Ontario Ministry of the Environment also considers landfill cover an acceptable use. But, said Environment spokesman Mark Rabbior, “we like to see tires recycled into value-added products if possible.” Ontario Tire Recovery sales manager Peter Hutley is unhappy about the destination of the Manitoulin Island tires. He insists his position isn’t a case of sour grapes after losing the contract to Empire. “I don’t think alternative daily cover is a suitable use for tires,” Hutley said. “There are too many better uses.” Alternative daily cover is material other than soil or earth that is placed on the daily deposits at a landfill. Daily cover helps to control odours, keep pests out of the garbage, prevent blowing litter and provide a firm base for vehicles. Vagi, of Empire Recycling, said the tires on Manitoulin Island couldn’t be ground into crumb rubber. They contained too much debris, which could damage the recycling machines. However, Hutley said the tire piles at Manitoulin were some of the cleanest he’d ever seen. “The majority were in suitable shape to go to our crumb plants and blasting mat manufacturers,” he said. The island stockpile had from 800,000 to 1.7 million tires, said Roy Angelow, a senior environmental specialist with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. About half were truck tires. The total could be as high as two million tires, said Indian and Northern Affairs spokesman Brock Worobel. Cockburn Island Tire Recycling collected the tires on the reserve for several years. However, the company’s shredding equipment didn’t work, nor did parts bought to fix the machines. Indian and Northern Affairs stepped in to remove the tires as an environmental and health hazard. Shredding began March 20. Vagi hopes to finish by Thursday. The shredded tires will leave the island in late May after spring load restrictions for highways are lifted. Their estimated weight is 20,000 tonnes, Angelow said. Not all the shredded tires will go to the Ridge Landfill, Vagi said. “We’re looking at a few other locations,” he said, but only the Ridge facility has been confirmed. Calls to the Ridge Landfill were referred to BFI Canada, which owns and operates the facility. The tires could be used as leachate, which prevents garbage juice from leaching into the ground, but BFI spokeswoman Chaya Cooperberg said they probably won’t be. “We need a lot of daily cover, so most will be used for that,” she said. The Ridge Landfill can accept 219,000 tonnes annually – or 1,070 tonnes daily – of alternative daily cover, Rabbior said. “We have no issue with respect to the shredded tires coming to the site,” said Rick Kucera, manager of environmental services for Chatham-Kent. “It’s a far more acceptable approach than landfilling.” Landfilling, or dumping whole tires in a landfill, was not an option for companies bidding on the Manitoulin Island project. Using the shredded tires as landfill daily cover is OK. “This is not landfilling,” Angelow said. “Landfill cover is considered a civil engineering use.” Cooperberg wouldn’t say how much BFI will receive for accepting the shredded tires at the Ridge Landfill. The landfill option is probably less expensive than taking the shredded tires to a recycling plant, Kucera said. “It’s got to be one of the cheapest options for them,” he said. Sites with 5,000 or more tires require a certificate of approval from the Ministry of the Environment. However, the tires on Manitoulin Island were stored on First Nations land, making them a federal concern.

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