Every year Guam drivers dispose of between 100 000 to 120 000 tires said Robert "Bob" Perron president and general manager of Guahan Waste Control.
Perron said Guahan Waste Control usually collects about 100 tires per month many of which customers try to hide in their trash. "We remove these [tires] from the trash going to Ordot [landfill] and send them to a properly licensed facility " he told the Journal.
Currently no market exists for recycled tires on Guam. "The recyclers on Guam handle the scrap tires in a couple of ways " Perron said. "They are either shredded or baled for volume reduction in order to ship more tires per container or they ship the tires out whole for recapping purposes."
Perron said Guahan Waste Control along with several tire shops on Guam contract with local recycling companies who accept tires and properly dispose of them. Guahan Waste Control works with Tomson LLC to dispose of its discarded tires. "It costs companies anywhere from $4 to $15 to have these recycling companies accept scrap tires " he said.
Tomson LLC collects tires computers plastic ware and metal scraps then shreds and cuts them. The company has been in business for four years and caters to about a dozen companies including the Navy and various construction and tire companies.
"We’re the only company that is shipping tires out off-island " said Soo Ja Park owner/project manager of Tomson LLC Guam. Tomson ships its tires to Japan and Korea she said.
"[The Environmental Protection Agency] says you have to take tires and ship them out " Park said. "Other tire recycling companies [on Guam] don’t do that."
She said her company normally picks up tires from tire dealers three or four times a week.
However Thomas Hertslet business consultant for Triple J Commercial Tire Center and Triple J Express Tire & Lube said the last time that Tomson LLC picked up his company’s tires was in early October.
Park said Tomson recently moved its dumpsite to Yigo which could possibly be the reason why several tire companies have not had their tires picked up.
"Scheduling is the problem " Park said. "We are only one company and we have plenty of tire companies asking us to pick up their tires we can’t handle them all together we need to schedule them."
Hertslet said he understands that Tomson LLC is one of the only companies on Guam that has the proper permits for solid waste processing. He said companies have to find a way to ship old tires off Guam.
"If you want to export take it off island but you need to find a source to do something with all the old tires and that’s not easy " Hertslet said. "Guam has all kinds of tires and that’s a busy peanut."
Hertslet puts a lot of blame on the Guam Environmental Protection Agency.
"It’s the inability of the local EPA to help out in disposing and assigning the proper permits " Hertslet said. "They basically hand out permits indiscriminately by checking out the clients and the tires still aren’t leaving the island."
Hertslet said EPA can look into situations in a reasonable way. "We don’t have people helping they always say ‘we’re a regulating agency ‘" he said.
Roland Gutierrez program manager for the Department of Defense and State/ Territorial Memorandum of Agreement Program said ultimately it’s the tire company’s responsibility to get rid of its tires considering they decided to open a shop. "We’ll always have tire problems on Guam " Gutierrez said. "The more people we have on Guam the more tires we’ll have."
Gutierrez was previously an environmental health specialist III under the solid waste program of the Guam EPA. Under the DSMOA program Guam EPA maintains regulatory oversight of environmental restoration efforts undertaken by the DOD on Guam to ensure compliance with local and federal laws and regulations.
Gutierrez said EPA is not responsible for waste disposal rather it is responsible for enforcing waste regulations on Guam. He said the Department of Public Works is in charge of waste disposal.
Companies that handle tire disposal and tire recycling must apply for a solid waste storage permit or a solid waste processing permit. Gutierrez said the permit fees for solid waste storage and solid waste processing are $500.
Ultimately Perron said the worldwide economy influences the demand for scrap tires. "Scrap tires are used in cement kilns and in some manufacturing processes " Perron said. "When these businesses slow down due to drop off in business the demand for these scrap tires decreases and makes it difficult to find someone to accept these tires."
Sometimes foreign markets may become overwhelmed with scrap tires and will stop accepting them. Due to provisions regarding the numbers of tires that local companies may store per the requirements of their GEPA permit local companies will then stop accepting the tires as well.
"The supply of scrap tires worldwide exceeds demand " Perron said. "When factoring in shipping and processing costs scrap tires can become an expensive commodity to deal with."
Joseph Hsu president of United Tire said his company wraps the tires then shreds them and eventually loads them in containers which Balli Steel Guam-Saipan LLC then ships off island.
"I believe the used tires are valuable " Hsu said. "We should find a way to use them instead of dumping and making them an environmental problem." Hsu said his company has yet to experience any major difficulty with getting rid of discarded tires.
Perron said scrap tires can be used to make rubber mats or sandals. "Other uses could include burning in a waste-to-energy incinerator to create electricity removing the steel belts and non-rubber components and processing the rubber particles to a very small size " Perron said. The particles can then be used in rubberized asphalt or a playground cover in place of materials such as sand. "The equipment to do this is expensive and is probably why it has not been done to this point " Perron said.
"It’s a problem not only on Guam but all over the world " Gutierrez said.