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US tyre recyclers want to tackle legislators’ radio silence

Policies for recycling scrap tyres in the US are predominantly decided at state level, causing a ‘disjointed’ recycling industry, according to John Sheerin, director of the US Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA). However, he told delegates at the ISRI convention in Las Vegas, the outlook is slowly changing.

The organisation has released a new report on recovering rubber from tyres in a bid to accelerate innovation and boost understanding. Sheerin says it been hard to advance tyre recycling in the US, especially when talking to companies from the different states.

John Sheerin hopes tyre recycling will pick up the pace in the coming months.

‘The national goal of recycling 50% of all municipal waste in the US will likely give tyre recyclers a little nudge,’ he argues. ‘It’s much needed. There is no federal plan dedicated to recycling – only general recycling targets.’

He laments that the enthusiasm of legislators tends to fade quickly. ‘It’s common to experience radio silence following intense discussions about the potential future of new recycled feedstock applications and methods like gasification, pyrolysis etc.’

This is a shame, Sheerin adds, because there are many interesting projects on the horizon, such as a rubberised asphalt R&D project led by Missouri University. Also, USTMA plans to develop an updated lifecycle assessment to better reflect different material specifications and market conditions.

‘With the price of oil rising steadily, polymers can only become more expensive and recycled rubber will definitely become more attractive. I really hope the increasing focus on sustainability themes will build a stronger connection between the world of rubber scrap and the government.’

Looking at production, Sheerin expects the US to see record shipments of 340.2 million tyres this year. That is higher than the 2021 and 2019 totals of 335.2 million units and 332.7 million units respectively.

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