Friday, 22 March 2013

Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS) - diversion and recycling

The head of Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS), Andrew Horsman, provided a good update on tire collection and recycling at the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA) convention.

Some impressive statistics about diversion of tires from the waste stream, collection at recyclers and other sources  and recycling into high value added products -- many of which are presented as green building materials given their recycled origins.

The OTS is facilitating a long market transition. Still operating under provincial government mandate, it is seeking to move used tires from a "waste problem" to a "high value resource". The subsidy rates and market innovations are adjusted and evolve each year.

For example, for passenger vehicle and light trucks in 2013, the stewardship fee collected on new tires in Ontario is $5.69. Collectors, the recycling yards, are paid an allowance for diversion of $0.88, based on reasonable demonstration of collection. Haulers are paid about $1-2 per tire to pick-up and transport to processors, Crumb rubber is then provided as feedstock to manufacturers. OTS states that the manufacturing capacity for recycled rubber now exceeds current supply of used tires.

With data since 2009, there are some good research questions and possible rich analysis:

  • Stocks and flows - material flow analysis (MFA). How many used tires are there? What is still out in fields and storage sheds? What will be the steady state flow? What is the leakage from out of province? 
  • Recycling.  Can we demonstrate conclusively that used tires are being diverted from the waste stream? It is the recycling or is it the fees that motivates this? Thus, is recycled content a meaningful indicator in this category?
  • LCA and carbon footprint. What is the benefit and offset associated with recycling? How does rubber, steel and fiber breakdown?