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DEC partners with UB researchers to improve waste tire recycling in New York


Thu, Jan 28th 2021 08:00 pm

State and UB experts will work together to create beneficial uses for millions of waste tires disposed of each year

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced a partnership with the University at Buffalo to develop an action plan focused on the proper and cost-effective management of waste tires. Building upon the state’s successful waste tire stockpile removal efforts, DEC and UB will work collaboratively to assess waste tire markets and develop environmentally and financially responsible ways to improve the recycling of millions of tires disposed of annually.

“New York residents and businesses generate up to 20 million waste tires each year and, to achieve our state’s environmental sustainability goals, we must find productive reuses of the materials,” Seggos said. “DEC has already taken effective actions to address illegal tire stockpiles that created threats to public health and the environment, but we must do more to strengthen tire recycling markets and infrastructure. We welcome this partnership with UB to help reduce an abundant and challenging waste stream and recycle tires in an economically and environmentally beneficial way.” 

“We are excited to work with the DEC on assessing and improving tire recycling in New York state. UB’s RENEW Institute is uniquely positioned to provide solutions for various aspects of tire recycling (as mentioned below) by engaging a multidisciplinary faculty team,” said UB’s Research and Education in Energy, Environment and Water (RENEW) Institute Director and SUNY Distinguished Professor Amit Goyal, who is also the project’s director.

A press release said, “Tire dumps are a breeding ground for disease-bearing mosquitos and animals and cause significant air and water pollution if they catch on fire. The partnership announced today builds upon the 2003 Waste Tire Management and Recycling Act, which mandated market development for waste tires, prohibited land burial of these tires, and instituted a recycling fee on each new tire sold in New York state to fund the cleanup of noncompliant tire waste stockpiles, among other activities.

“New York state remains diligent in assessing noncompliant waste tire stockpiles, prioritizing cleanup, and incorporating these tires into the state’s waste tire stockpile abatement plan. Since the plan was established in 2003, nearly 44 million tires have been abated from more than 160 noncompliant sites.”

To address remaining waste tire challenges, DEC and UB will explore different options for the beneficial use of whole tires and tire byproducts other than use as fuel for waste-to-energy or refurbishing these tires for reuse on vehicles. UB will inventory and evaluate existing data, assess the current supply and demand for various forms of tire rubber in New York and across the U.S., and evaluate methods to improve waste tire recycling infrastructure and the marketability of secondary tire-based materials and products. In addition, UB will evaluate policy options that may be appropriate to promote waste tire rubber marketability and develop recycling markets for waste tires in New York.

This project is funded with nearly $250,000 primarily from the state’s waste management and cleanup account, supported by the state’s tire recycling fee.

For more information about waste tires, including tips on how to help make tires last longer on vehicles and to properly dispose of old tires, go to DEC’s website or contact a local DEC regional office.

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