The Scrap Tire Research and Education Foundation, Inc. (STREF), and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) hosted the 6th “Scrap to Profit” Conference on 28 and 29 October at the Holiday Inn Express in Latham, New York just outside Albany.

The conference provided presentations and discussions on developments in scrap tire markets, ground rubber markets, and expanding markets, including special emphasis on rubber modified asphalt.

Scrap to profit conference copy

John Sheerin from the Rubber Manufacturers Association provided an overview of the scrap tire market. He presented results of a nation-wide scrap tire work-group survey, which had covered the questions of how different states handle used tires or how they handle Alternative Daily Cover (ADC). He also noted that stockpiles in the US have been reduced from 2013 from approximately 1 Billion to approximately 75 Million, that markets respectively have expanded from 11% to 95.6% and that at this moment most states already have regulatory programs.

Afterwards James “Buzz” Surwilo from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation presented a report about the recent situation in Vermont, highlighting the differences between the various types of scrap tires piles in terms of management and the future needs of the state.

6th Scrap to Profit Conference - October 28-29, 2015 Holiday Inn Express and Suites - Latham, New York
Vartan Green Roofing Project

Pete Previte from the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center portrayed the scrap tire market development in the state of Pennsylvania and presented the Vartan Green Roof Project, which is an emerging market on which the center is currently working. (More on this research project here)

Rhonda Oyer from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality explained the state regulations of the industry and recent statutory amendments. She highlighted the results, which have followed the newly imposed state regulations, among which were growth in the processing industry, increased market capacity and a decrease in dump concerns. As factors behind the success of the Michigan scrap tire program Oyer listed continued funding for collecting abandoned scrap tires, the simplicity of the program goal (“to clean up”), recent market developments showing new or increased use of scrap tires, consistent enforcement of the statute, periodic review of the program and statute to address changing needs, working with local Units of Government to raise awareness and continued search for new outlets for both the stockpiled tires and the newly generated scrap tires. Similarly afterwards were also presented the current programs and developments in South Carolina and Arkansas.

In the following part of the conference Terry Gray from TAG Resource Recovery held a presentation about the past, present and future of tire derived fuel (TDF). He pointed out that TDF is one of the largest end use markets for waste tires in most industrialized countries, the cornerstone of state waste tire management programs with appropriate facilities and has not prevented development of other markets, which is demonstrated by the current market diversity. Furthermore, TDF usage is reportedly increasing, as industry is rebounding from recession. As future projections Gray predicted that TDF cost will be controlled by coal and other alternative fuels, industry consolidation may impact some kilns and TDF usage, there will be an increased usage of shreds to maximize TDF usage and future TDF consumption is likely to be cyclical. According to Gray TDF usage in MSW power units will increase for power generation, if capacity is available. He further stated that TDF usage in renewable energy (biomass) facilities is being negatively impacted by economic incentives intended to promote wind and solar energy. Low oil and natural gas prices are expected to decrease due to avoided cost revenue for merchant biomass power generation facilities. Decreased energy tax credits for renewable energy power generation facilities also may have a negative impact, said Gray. In conclusion he noted that TDF is a mature market with decreasing opportunities for growth through new users. Impending regulations may have significant positive and negative impact. Impact of sustained low oil and gas prices will be increasingly negative and processors may have to increase collection costs to maintain revenue.

Afterwards Sam Kauffman, the vice president and COO of Edge Rubber, explained how crumb rubber is made and after him Tom Resenmayer from Lehigh Technologies spoke about micronized rubber powder (MRP). According to Resenmayer cryogenic turbo mill production of micronized rubber powder is a large-scale, efficient, safe, and reliable process. Their business model with specialty materials is working and tire-to-tire usage in premium branded tires is proven on a global basis. According to Resenmayer expanding tire-to-tire usage requires continued development of technology and supply chain.

Sam Visaisouk, the CEO of Tyromer Inc. spoke about ways of improving sustainability in the tire and rubber industry. He explained the devulcanization technology, which Tyromer uses in its recycling process and stated that any serious effort to devulcanize scrap tire rubber must target tire manufacturing. Through collaboration and open innovation, they aim at delivering mutual benefits and also at being part of the global scrap tire solution.

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Shared Risk and Shared Reward

Bill Robbins, the president and founder of Rubber From Recycled Products, LLC, explained what needs to be kept in mind when manufacturing a recycled rubber product. With regards to this he stated in his presentation that “you can have the greatest product idea in the world, hold a Patent(s), but if you do not have marketing, sales, distribution, customers, low-cost manufacturing, you have nothing.”

On the second day of the conference the senior counselor at the Rubber Manufaturers’ Association, Sarah Amick, spoke about the various regulations promoting the tire derived fuel market. In her presentation she covered the topics about non-hazardous secondary materials the biomass accounting framework and EPA’s clean power plan.

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Carolina Rodezno from the National Center for Asphalt Technology, as well as Cliff Ashcroft from the Rubber Pavements association gave presentations on the properties and advantages of rubber modified asphalt. Kevin Kendrick from Modified Asphalt Solutions, Inc. then listed as environmental advantages of the usage of rubberized asphalt that it recycles used tires and frees landfills, it reduces emissions and fumes, reduces also the use of truck bed release agents and allows lower mix temperatures. As performance advantages he outlined, that rubberized asphalt improves the mix workability, improves the compaction across wider temperature range, as well as the rut resistance and the resistance to reflective cracking. In addition to that Mark Edsall from All States Materials Group presented the various types of asphalt rubber application types and the challenges for asphalt rubber.