As of January 2008, the Metro Vancouver regional district has banned passenger and truck vehicle tires from its landfills and has become the latest municipality to direct tires towards collection depots or tire dealers.
“We are trying to keep materials that can be recycled, or with return programs, out of landfill,” said Judy Robertson, Metro Vancouver media relations spokesperson.
The underlying reason for regional district’s Zero Waste Challenge program, which now diverts 52% of items into recyclable materials (with a target of 70%) is that it is running out of landfill space.
But, Metro Vancouver is just following what’s happening elsewhere in B.C. and across Canada.
Tires are no longer being burned or buried at a landfill. They are being recycled.
Mike Roberge, vice-president of operations for Western Rubber Products Ltd. of Annacis Island, said the recycling program for tires in B.C. is the best in the world.
For the past 19 years, his company has been collecting and recycling tires voluntarily left with tire dealers or left at drop stations.
One of the largest users is the artificial turf industry when installing playing fields. The rubber is reconstituted into coffee-grinds like material that is raked into the artificial turf to keep it in place.
“They use 250,000 pounds for the average field,” Roberge said, adding the company supplies material for major sporting fields across Canada and into the U.S.
The reconstituted rubber is also made into fatigue mats for the dairy industry (cows love to snooze on them), shops, play areas and even roofing tiles. The steel in the tires is recycled to metal salvagers, while the fibre is sent to a cement plant to use as fuel.
Western Rubber, which employs 100 people and collects tires from throughout B.C., has realized steady business growth.
Jack Davidson, president of the BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, said his members have been strong supporters of recycling and reusing tires because of their high cost on large-scale equipment.
“The bigger tires go back to manufacturers for recapping,” he said, adding that tires no longer able to be used are placed into recycling programs such as those offered by dealers such as Kal Tire.
“This is mainly about being corporately responsible,” said Michael Kinghorn, advertising co-ordinator for Kal Tire, which has Canadian headquarters in Vernon, B.C. “We are not dealing in the most environmentally friendly industry.”
Kinghorn said that old used tires can be troublesome and a burden to dispose of. All Kal Tire dealers will take back Kal Tire product as well as other brands.
Mike Hennessy, executive director of the Tire Stewardship BC, said that in 2007 the provincial government decided to get out of the recycling business and turned a voluntary recycling program into a stewardship that placed the onus of disposing old tires back on the tire industry.
There is now a disposal fee schedule attached to new tires purchased which begins at $5 and covers the collection cost for recycling.
“Right now the stewardship is ramping up its Return to Retailer program,” said Hennessy, adding that he is attempting to get 400 B.C. retailers on side to take all tires and hold them for collection by a recycler.
Some companies such as Kal Tire and Canadian Tire already do that. Once retailers are established, municipal garbage sites will no longer need to accept them, he said.
Hennessy said that currently B.C. disposal sites accept tires, but added that they are being separated out.
City of Vancouver transfer stations still take four tires free of charge, but they must be placed into one of several recycling bins.
Mairi Welman, director of communications for the Recycling Council of B.C., said tires are now joining a growing list of materials (asbestos, concrete and gypsum) that the construction industry can no longer direct towards landfill.
She said that industry can expect additional future restrictions.
“Demolition material from the construction industry is one of the largest contributors to landfill,” she said,
She added that Metro Vancouver has been looking at ways to reduce such material through deconstruction companies that re-use old multi-storey construction materials. (Tire Review/Akron)