Recycling 'credit' for using old tires as fuel given little chance

February 23, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- A Carroll bill that would give the county recycling "credit" for old tires used as fuel in cement kilns probably will die in a House committee, a county delegate said yesterday.

The Maryland Department of the Environment opposes the measure, which would be effective statewide.

Using tires as a fuel substitute is a good practice, said Richard Collins, director of the department's Waste Management Administration.

"But it's not recycling. The Maryland Recycling Act defines recycling as returning a product to the marketplace," he said yesterday.

The House Environmental Matters Committee took testimony on House Bill 550 yesterday and will vote on it later.

Del. Donald B. Elliott, a Republican representing Carroll and Howard counties and a committee member, said he can understand the department's opposition.

"I see their rationale, and I have a feeling the committee will buy that," he said.

Carroll commissioners asked the delegation to introduce the bill to help the county meet its recycling goal. The state requires that Carroll recycle 15 percent of its waste by the end of this year.

Mr. Collins said reports show Carroll already recycles 23 percent of its waste.

Lehigh Portland Cement Co. in Union Bridge has state permission to burn scrap tires as fuel in its cement kilns. The practice is intended to provide cheap fuel for the company and to divert tires from landfills.

The tire-burning plan is on indefinite hold because the holder of a patent on tire-burning equipment is suing Lehigh, charging patent infringement.

Lehigh engineers devised the technique and equipment the Union Bridge plant would use, and they say it is different from the patented design.

Dru Schmidt-Perkins, Maryland director of Clean Water Action, also opposed the bill to give recycling credit for burned tires. Her group opposes any burning of tires because it generates pollution, she said.

A better solution would be to produce fewer tires, she said. Companies should work to develop a tire that will last 200,000 miles or one that can be recycled, she said.

County Attorney Charles W. Thompson and Del. Richard C. Matthews, a Carroll Republican and the delegation chairman, presented the bill to the committee.

Mr. Collins said that if counties were given recycling credit for burning tires, Carroll would receive credit only for tires from the county. And it would be "a nightmare" to track how many tires came from each county, he said.

The state will give companies recycling credit for metal from the tires that will be incorporated into the cement instead of being dumped in a landfill, he said. The amount of metal is likely to be minimal, he said.

Mr. Collins said the Carroll bill also would affect Essroc Materials Inc. in Frederick, which already burns tires; Independent Cement Corp. in Hagerstown, which has applied to burn tires; BRESCO, a Baltimore incinerator; and the Harford County waste-to-energy plant.

If the practice of burning tires or garbage is considering recycling, county recycling goals would probably be raised, Mr. Collins said.

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