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RE: [GreenYes] Fw: QUERY: What to do with used tires? [Q fromBra zil]
This has been an interesting discussion, but I would hope we can all agree
(as I think Doug has pointed out) that there are really two issues here.
First and foremost among these is the abatement of a public health risk.
The message that prompted this discussion was a plea for help regarding an
urgent health risk.  Any march toward "sustainability" which refuses to
practically recognize the need to prioritize the immediate protection of
public health is headed for failure.  While some may think that the more
important question is "how do we get to sustainability", I guarantee you
that the majority of the world's population would prefer to ask "how do I
make sure my child doesn't get malaria from the pile of tires ALREADY
stacked in our community?".  I don't think these folks would be willing to
wait for the advent of a perfectly sustainable solution.  Refusing to
recognize the urgency of these situations risks alienating our message of

The second issue is the sustainability concept (which obviously includes
protection of health).  I don't think many would argue that reuse, waste
minimization, closed loop recycling,etc. are preferable to energy recovery.
However, if the situation is urgent, there are no other higher-value
available markets, and/or the tires offer a source of energy which is
superior (from an emissions and Btu standpoint) to high-sulfur coal or other
fossil fuels they would replace, then I think we need to consider an
integrated strategy which would include energy recovery.  As long as we
recognize that this is only an interim solution, and as long as we continue
to push ahead toward more sustainable alternatives, then this policy would
be far superior to letting a problem fester until the day when someone just
waves a magic wand to give us the answer - because that day will never come.


-----Original Message-----
From: Doug Koplow []
Sent: Friday, March 01, 2002 10:30 AM
Subject: RE: [GreenYes] Fw: QUERY: What to do with used tires? [Q
fromBra zil]


I must say I find your response puzzling.  There is no disagreement on this
list about the energy balance of tires, or of the general themes of the
waste management hierarchy.  We all think that it would be just dandy if
tires never wore out, and if they did that they could be sustainably
recycled into new tires.  There is no disagreement about getting on the road
to sustainability.

However, the original inquiry involved a public health disaster in Brazil,
with 20 people dying per month due, in large part, to piles of waste tires.
You have defined the "more important" question as "how do we get to
sustainability?" dismissing the responses others posted to deal with the
problem posed by the inquiry in an environmentally-sound manner.  

When is the last time 20 people per month have died in Vancouver due to an
environmental problem?  If it happened, would you be up in the town meeting
arguing that proven methods to recover energy from waste tires should not be
used because we've got all of these other, somewhat higher value uses for
the rubber that are just on the horizon?  Or that can handle 5% of the waste
tires generated?  These very same technologies were just on the horizon 15
years ago, and for some reason they haven't yet taken the continent by
storm.  So let's see, 15 years is 300 months.  At current mortality rates,
only 6,000 Brazilians would die from not eliminating the waste tires

While I don't want to overstate the case too much, as I am sure not all the
deaths are due only to tire piles, there is a more basic point here.  The
road to sustainability needs to occur in a series of continuous small steps.
Using tires for energy recovery is far better than leaving them in piles.
Furthermore, you are not sapping needed supply from other uses (supply is
still way larger than demand all over).  In addition, since cement kiln
capacity is not being built only to use waste tires, you are not creating
the types of infrastructure rigidities that arose with the take-or-pay
contracts in municipal solid waste.  As a result, as higher value uses for
the tires do finally reach maturation, there will be few barriers to
diverting the waste tires in those new directions.

In terms of Muna's comments that even waste tire burning in kilns is
generating substantial environmental problems in his country, I would
encourage him to integrate research done in the US and Europe to find out
why.  This is probably more indicative of poor management of their
industrial processes (regardless of the fuel), than to the use of tires.

-Doug Koplow

Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02140
Tel:  617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463

>>> Helen Spiegelman <> 02/28/02 02:08PM >>>
With all due respect, gentlemen, you have missed Muna's point:

a simple energy balance
 > will
 > show that
 > > "energy from waste" is simply another way of avoiding the issue in the
 > first place -
 > > that of re-use or avoidance...

Mike and Jay are taking us down a road that answers the questions 'how do 
we get rid of old tires' and 'how do we find the energy to create concrete' 
-- but that road, arguably, leads us away from the more important question: 
'how do we get to sustainability'.


At 11:51 AM 02/28/2002 -0500, Jay Donnaway wrote:
>Exactly, Mike
>Burning whole tires in a cement kiln is a much better option than mining
>coal to fuel the kiln.  The Bavarian State Institute for Environmental
>Protection (Germany)agrees, and concluded that the best means of disposing
>of waste tires is to use them to tuel cement kilns.  In order to make good
>cement, kilns much reach 1500 to 1600 degrees Centigrade, which is much
>hotter than required for adequate breakdown of hazardous chemicals.
>Hazwaste incinerators, on the other hand, know that higher temperatures
>for shorter equipment life, so they are incentivized to burn at the lowest
>temp they can get away with.  This is a great example that sometimes,
>recovery from waste is most appropriate.
>Jay Donnaway
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Mike Morrow [] 
> > Sent: Thursday, February 28, 2002 9:30 AM
> > To:;; Doug Koplow
> > Cc:; 
> > Subject:      Re: [GreenYes] Fw: QUERY: What to do with used tires? [Q
> > from Brazil]
> >
> > You seem to have missed  the guys point here.  Making cement is a
> > process where "contaminants" are incorporated in the final product.  We
> > have
> > lots of examples here of fly ash and some bottom ash being easily
> > incorporated in cement because of the properties of ash.
> >
> > Seems to me that using tires as part of cements fuel mix is a better
> > option
> > than mining more coal to make the same cement.
> >
> > Mike
> >
> > From: <>
> >
> >
> >
> > > On 26 Feb 2002 at 14:36, Doug Koplow wrote:
> > >
> > > > Hi Marcelo,
> > > >
> > > > Your inquiry regarding tires was posted to the Green Yes Listserve,
> > > > which I am a member.  I looked at waste tires in relation to work I
> > > > did for the US EPA on hazardous waste combustion in cement kilns
> > > > years ago.  Based on this work, I concluded that disposal of whole
> > > > waste tires (which are not considered hazardous waste) in cement
> > > > is actually a very good solution.
> > > >
> > > > The extremely high temperatures in the kiln, combined with long
> > > > retention times in the burner, lead to very clean combustion, and
> > > > nearly every region of the world has them.  Combustion in kilns does
> > > > not generate the black smoke that one sees when tires are burned in
> > > > open pits.  The metals found in the waste tires (either through
> > > > belts or through additives to improve braking, wear, etc.) are
> > > > entrained in the cement clinker, and generally not released to the
> > > > air.
> > > >
> > > Sorry to say, that I do not agree with Doug - we have found that waste
> > incineration
> > > has no positive spinoffs at all, and simply transfers the problem from
> > solid waste to
> > > mainly air pollution, the creation of highly toxic bottom ash, and the
> > actual loss of the
> > > resource and energy used in its manufacture - a simple energy balance
> > will
> > show that
> > > "energy from waste" is simply another way of avoiding the issue in the
> > first place -
> > > that of re-use or avoidance...
> > >
> > > the chemicals that are liberated in burning, as well as the heavy
> > metals,
> > etc. cause a
> > > much more serious problem than the one Marcello is trying to solve -
> > are very
> > > sensitive here regarding eco-justice, and can say very clearly that
> > burning of ANY
> > > waste is no solution, especially not for the people in our country...
> > indeed,
> > > anywhere else...
> > >
> > > regards
> > > Muna
> > >
> >
> > ******************************************
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