Ontario generates an estimated 10 million scrap tires annually — nearly 40 per cent of the Canadian total. Of these approximately 3.5-million tires are processed in the province by various shredding and crumbing companies. Most of the remaining 6.5 million tires are shipped out of province for tire-derived fuel, stockpile and landfill. Once again, this places Ontario last in Canada when it comes to responsible management and stewardship of recyclables.
On top of this, last fall Michigan and Quebec closed their borders to Ontario tires, making it harder to get rid off them. Don Campbell, president of the Rubber Association of Canada says, “The Ontario scene may get quite difficult very shortly, because tire dealers will soon feel the changes in cost from the legitimate haulers, which will encourage the fly-by-nighters. This could lead to more stockpiles and abandoned tires on Ontario road sides.”
However, a solution does exist — one that has shown excellent results elsewhere. In 1998, a multi-stakeholder group known as The Scrap Tire Stakeholder Group (including tire manufacturers, recyclers, haulers, dealers, municipalities and related associations) submitted a stewardship plan to the Ontario Ministry of Environment. Based on the model successfully used in Alberta and Manitoba, the plan proposes an Ontario Tire Stewardship Council to collect revenues from retailers, pay out incentive fees and manage the program.
This plan received support from all stakeholders as well as the Recycling Council of Ontario, Corporations Supporting Recycling, the Association of Municipal Recycling Coordinators and the Solid Waste Association of North America. But in spite of strong endorsement Ontario is sluggish to move on the required legislation and regulation.
In October 1998, then-Minister of Environment Norman Sterling stated that the newly announced Waste Diversion Organization (WDO) will “initiate programs for other problem wastes such as used oil, paint and tires so that these wastes too can be re-used, recycled or disposed of in the best environmental ways.” But the Scrap Tire Stewardship Group was not consulted and one year later when the WDO was officially formed, scrap tires somehow were excluded from the list of products/packaging it was to address. Even after several meetings with the minister and his staff (the last one being in August 2000 with former Minister Newman) the group has still been given no indication from the ministry on how it intends to deal with the situation.