Image: CATRA

The unexpected defeat of California AB 1239, a controversial tire recycling bill supported by environmental groups but opposed by tire dealers and manufacturers came in the wee hours of the last day of two-year legislative session.

Sponsored by Californians Against Waste (CAW) and 15 other California-based environmental groups, AB 1239 sought to establish a new regulatory fee on tires in the state and replace the state’s popular tire grant program with a new incentive program.

Final tally for AB 1239 at midnight August 31 was 34-34, with 12 abstentions, Terry Leveille, president of Sacramento-based TL & Associates and legislative representative for the California Tire Dealers Association (CTDA), said.

The bill, which is languished in the legislature for a year and a half first passed the California Assemble in June 2015 and was later approved on Aug. 22, 2016 and by the National Recourses Committee on Aug. 30, but the fully Assembly failed to reach agreement on the amended bill.

Targeted to helping the state achieve a 75 per cent recycling rate, AB 1239 would have provided incentive payments to end users of recycled tire material and would have given the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) authority to add up to $1 to the state’s $1.75-per-tire scrap tire fee to cover the costs of recycling waste tires.

According to the CAW, the bill was designed to “help expand the state’s  tire recycling infrastructure to reduce green-house gases, create jobs and cut costs associated with tire cleanup.”

While industry representatives supported the legislature’s goal of reaching 75 per cent tire recycling rate, it was the new fee that most rankled California tire dealers.

At issue, Leveille said, was that AB 1239 gave CalRecycle, which collects about $35 million annually with its current $1.75 tire fee and has a $78 million fund balance in its tire budget, the discretion to establish a new “tire regulatory fee” when it determined that it needed the extra money to pay for the Tire Incentive Program.

As important, AB 1239 would have repealed California’s tire grant program which, CTDA said in a letter to the Assembly, “has been successful in diverting 90 percent of the state’s annual 44 million waste tires from landfills.”

The bill would have replaced the tire grants with a tire incentive payment program that would have paid subsidies to tire product manufacturers and contractors who use California-generated recycled tire rubber feedstock and sell their products to end-users in the private sector and to local agencies, schools and park districts.

In its letter to the Assembly, CDTA also voiced concern about the track record of intensive programs in other states and in Canada – specifically Ontario, where the incentive programs have been highly criticized.

Rather than put a new fee in AB 1239 for CalRecycle establish, CDTA said it preferred that if the department was going to have an incentive program, they should try it for a few years, spend down its tire fund, check the California Tire Recycling rate for increases and then come back to the legislature for a new fee.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association, which joined CTDA in opposing AB 1239, suggested that Calecycle report annually on the State’s recycling rate and conduct an independent economic study on structuring incentives to increase end uses of tire-derived products.

CAW plans to resubmit the bill when the California legislature reconvenes in January 2017, according to CAW Legislature Coordinator Nick Lapis.

Leveille said CTDA welcomes working with CalRecycle and CAW during the next legislative session to craft a bill that acceptable to all parties and fair to tire dealers.

Source: Scrap Tire News