Ag tires rolled into Ont. recycling plan

A new program expected to recycle at least 90 per cent of Ontario’s used tires by its fifth year of operation will include farm and off-road tires.

The Ontario government on Thursday announced it has asked Waste Diversion Ontario, a non-Crown corporation set up by the province in 2002 to run waste diversion programs, to draft a plan for a used tire recycling program by the end of this year.

Such a program “is to include all truck and car tires, off-road tires, and industry (and) farm vehicle tires,” the province wrote. “It must also ensure there are greater incentives for reusing and recycling.”

WDO has been asked to design a plan that would also help clean up existing tire stockpiles “as quickly as possible” and to make sure its proposed program is self-funding. “No fees will go to government.”

Vehicle and tire manufacturers, tire importers and retailers with their own brand of tires would pay a fee to an industry group to cover program costs, the province said.

It’s not yet known what sort of fee would be charged for farm tires, but any funding rules WDO proposes will have to clearly identify used tires included under the program for which fees are payable, the province said.

Those companies that collect tires for the program, including tire retailers, shall not charge consumers any additional fee for the management of the tires once they’re off the vehicle, the province said.

Such a program would send tires to landfills or incinerators only in cases where the environmental three “R”s — reduce, reuse (that is, retread) or recycle — “are not available or not technically feasible,” Environment Minister John Gerretsen wrote in a letter Thursday to WDO chair Gemma Zecchini.

Gerretsen wrote that he also wants to see proposals for “accessibility targets” to make sure the program is convenient and accessible for all Ontario residents, including those in rural and northern communities as well as in high-density urban areas.

Over 10 million used tires need to be managed each year in Ontario. About half are now shipped out of province for use as fuel, or are stockpiled, many illegally, the province said Thursday. It called stockpiled tires a serious fire hazard and a possible breeding ground for mosquitoes if not managed properly. The rest are being recycled or shredded for landfill cover.

“We want to ensure used tires are turned into valuable products — not dumped in a farmer’s field where they can become health and safety hazards,” Gerretsen said in a release Thursday. “I’m also expecting the program to foster Ontario-based technologies for making new products from scrap tires.”

Such a program, he wrote to WDO, would include “all aspects associated with the management of used tires once they are removed from the vehicle, including the handling, storage (temporary or otherwise), collection, transportation, reuse, processing, recycling and disposal of used tires.”

$30 million and no program

All other provinces have tire programs and are achieving upward of 90 per cent collection and recycling rates, the government said. Tire retailers today charge Ontarians $3 or more for the handling and disposal of every old tire, generating about $30 million “with no formal program in place to ensure that these used tires are recycled,” it added.

Scrap tires, it said, can be turned into rubberized road asphalt, playground equipment and surfaces, athletic field turf and running tracks, rubber flooring, surfacing for walking trails, interlocking patio bricks, roofing shingles, parking curbs, speed bumps, livestock feeders and troughs, landscape mulch, belts, guitar straps and parts for new vehicles.

WDO was set up under the provincial Waste Diversion Act, which calls for it to develop programs for designated materials including used tires as well as blue box waste, used oil, waste electrical and electronic equipment and municipal hazardous or “special” waste.

However, after WDO was set up, the environment ministry set aside the designation for used oil materials, and “deferred” the development of a diversion program for used tires, until now. Gerretsen said in his letter Thursday that he was “pleased we are moving ahead with this much needed initiative.”

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