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Michigan Scrap Tire Program study finds opportunities in new markets, rubber asphalt

November 19, 2020
Kirstin Clemens, EGLE scrap tire coordinator,, 517-614-7431
Jill A. Greenberg, EGLE spokesperson,, 517-897-4965

Michigan is considered a national leader for how it handles scrap tires, from supporting rubber-modified asphalt (RMA) to a successful remediation program. And now the 2020 Scrap Tire Market Development Study, funded by a fiscal year 2019 Scrap Tire Market Development Grant  to Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), provides guidance on how the state can use these innovations and more to explore new markets.

The RRS study identified three parts to a market development strategy for the Michigan Scrap Tire Program:

  • A scrap tire market study report
  • Identifying best management practices for scrap tire recycling
  • Producing a Midwest directory of scrap tire businesses

Nearly three decades ago, one billion tires littered communities across the United States, resulting in community blight, as well as tire fires and breeding grounds for mosquitos. Since then, regulation to drive enforcement, clean-up, funding and market development efforts have transformed the $1 billion tire reuse industry.

“In our state, 10 million tires are generated every year. That translates to one tire per person in Michigan,” said Kirsten Clemens, Scrap Tire Coordinator, Materials Management Division, (MMD) at EGLE. “Transforming scrap tires into an asphalt additive is a game changer in the recycling industry.”

As part of the study, RRS conducted more than 25 interviews with industry leaders in the scrap tire industry.

Study findings indicate tire derived fuel markets are decreasing, and the state must look at new markets. To address this, RRS made nine recommendations, including increasing the use of rubber-modified asphalt and strengthening industry relationships to build a high-impact “circular tire economy collaborative.”

“Michigan is poised to transition the scrap tire industry from managing waste to creating economic value,” Clemens said.

The Michigan Scrap Tire Program continues to work on many market development ideas. It also has partnered on a grant developed for the U.S. Department of Energy’s ReMade Institute, and written by Michigan Technological University, to use the existing supply of waste tire rubber asphalt to build roads.

In addition to rubber-modified asphalt and rubberized chip seal, other ideas showing development potential include use of tire derived aggregate and porous pavement.

Since 2018, MMD has awarded scrap tire grants to 21 communities for projects, such as paving, scrap tire violation enforcement and equipment acquisition (e.g., tire shredders).

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