Lately there has been some discussion about tire recycling and the costs associated with the responsible recycling of old tires, specifically the large tires used in the agricultural, mining and forestry industries.
These discussions will no doubt continue in the weeks ahead, particularly because the cost to recycle many types of tires is increasing.
As this continues to unfold, let’s try to keep in mind some important facts.
First, under the leadership and management of Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS), the organization established to manage the recycling of our used tires, Ontario’s tire recycling program has been a resounding success (www.RethinkTires.ca). No longer do we see tires thrown into ditches along our roads. In the four years since this program began, OTS has recycled over 50 million old tires. That’s 50 million tires no longer going into our landfills.
Today, over 95 percent of Ontario’s used tires are recycled, many into useful products like roof shingles, traffic cone bases, playground safety tiles, and the rubber pavement in hockey arenas. Just by using shingles made from recycled tires on a typical roof, 64 tires are kept out of landfill. And Ontario is the only province in Canada that recycles a full range of tires, including the larger and heavier ones used in the agricultural, construction, mining and forestry sectors.
Second, let’s remember who pays for this recycling. Simply put, the manufacturers and importers of new tires pay these costs. The recycling program that OTS manages is paid for by people who manufacture and supply Ontarians with tires. Long ago, everyone agreed, including the tire manufacturers, that those who produce the tires should be responsible for paying the full cost of recycling them.
This leads to my third point, and here’s the scoop: It is entirely up to the tire manufacturers to decide how to pass these costs directly to you and me. Some call this an eco fee. Others call it an eco tax. It is neither. It is the cost of recycling the tires. It is the manufacturers who decide how their customers pay for these costs, by either including them in the tire price, or by adding them to the price and displaying this cost on the receipt you receive when you purchase a tire. Not a penny of this money goes to government – it goes right back into the cost of tire recycling where it belongs.
My fourth point: Costs for recycling many types of tires, including those used in the agricultural sector, are going up. OTS is now required by the Minister of the Environment’s Regulation to bill tire manufacturers for actual recycling costs, not estimated costs. And because of the weight and size of many tires in the agricultural sector, it costs more to recycle them. One tire can weigh as much as 1,200 kilograms, or 100 times more than one of the tires on a family car.
My final point: Under the Used Tires Program, everyone including farmers can now dispose of their old tires at no extra charge. The program has eliminated a cost farmers previously had to pay for the responsible disposal of their tires. OTS has worked with farmers to remove, free of charge, large accumulations of tires. To date, they have cleaned up more than 500,000 tires, including many from agricultural properties, thus eliminating the costs that farmers would have otherwise had to bear to clean up those piles themselves.
OTS has consulted extensively with those affected by the increasing costs. It has also offered to meet with any organization, particularly in the agricultural, forestry and mining sectors, and will continue to do so in the weeks ahead. As the oversight agency, Waste Diversion Ontario will keep monitoring this consultation process to make sure everyone is treated fairly.
As we move forward, let’s also remember this: Thankfully, we are in a new era. Gone are the days when old tires were treated as junk. Gone are the days when our landfills and fields were full of old tires. Instead, we now have a successful tire recycling program that is fully funded by the folks who make our tires.