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Ontario minister "recycles" scrap tire policy

The Ontario Minister of Environment has issued a program request letter to WDO for a used tire program for Ontario.


The Ontario Minister of Environment has issued a program request letter to WDO for a used tire program for Ontario.

The program request letter is virtually identical to the one issued in 2003 in that it designates brand-owners and first importers as stewards. Stewards are to be responsible for, “all aspects associated with the management of used tires once they are removed from a vehicle, including the handling, storage (temporary or otherwise), collection, transportation, reuse, processing, recycling and disposal of used tires.”

With the same direction given to tire manufacturers as in 2003, critics point out that the inevitable result will be exactly the same program as proposed by tire manufacturers and first importers (operating as Ontario Tire Stewardship) in 2005 – a consumer fee-based system and the elimination of the current market-based system that exists for the collection of tires.

In 2005 OTS had proposed a system whereby it was to be the sole purchaser of tire collection services paying regionally set collection payments to scrap tire collectors. In the current system, tire retailers levy disposal charges (that vary between retailers) on scrap tires left with them by consumers and pay tire haulers to collect the scrap tires from them for recycling or disposal.

The program proposed in 2005 was rejected by the Ontario government with the Ontario Premier citing the consumer charges arising from the program as a tax, stating that, “There will be no tire tax, adding, “Everybody get that one? There will be no tire tax.”

In April 2008 Environment Minister Gerretsen provided a rationale for a formal scrap tire program alleging in the legislature that:

” a lot of people are upset about is the so-called environmental fee that many automotive shops charge. Some automotive shops are doing the right thing and making sure that the tires are being recycled. Others just have them hauled away and really don’t know what’s going to happen to the material etc.”

The scrap tire disposal charges currently levied by many Ontario tire retailers originated after June of 1989 when the Petersen Liberal government instituted a provincial tire tax. At the time it was announced by the Hon R. F. Nixon (Treasurer) stated, “tax of $5 will be charged on the purchase of each new tire. The tire tax will help fund efforts to support recycling and environmentally sound disposal.”

Of the $155 million that was collected over the four-year period that the tax was in effect the provincial government spent less that $10 million on promoting recycling, with the remainder accruing to provincial general revenue. Tire retailers and tire collectors received no financial support for the recovery of scrap tires. In response many tire retailers initiated their own cost-recovery mechanism (levied in addition to the provincial tire tax) to cover their own scrap tire handling costs and to pay tire collectors for tire recovery.

Currently, the market-based system in Ontario recovers over 90 per cent of the approximately 11 million scrap tires generated annually with about 50 per cent of those tires being recycled to higher order uses. The remainder is burned as tire derived fuel primarily in Quebec and the U.S.

The program request letter sent by the minister to Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) specifically precludes the program from providing financial incentives for the landfill, use of tires as daily cover on landfills or incineration.

Ontario currently has no ban on the landfill or burning of scrap tires as tire derived fuel. (There is currently a temporary moratorium on the practice set to expire in December 2008). The certificate of approval issued to Lafarge in December of 2006 for the burning of scrap tires as tire derived fuel in Bath, Ontario is pending a hearing at Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal.


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