A Circular Approach

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Carol Hochu, President & CEO, Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC). Photo Carol Hochu

Effective end-of-life tire management is critical to ensuring a truly sustainable economy.  

October is known for a multitude of holidays and celebrations including Thanksgiving Day in Canada and Columbus Day in the U.S, both on Monday, October 10. But October also celebrates Circular Economy (CE) Month (including Waste Reduction Week), and public awareness campaigns of the Circular Innovation Council (CIC) here in Canada. Throughout the month of October, the CIC invites Canadians to learn about the CE, celebrate individual and collective efforts, embrace circular solutions, and encourage others to act. You can learn more about CE Month by visiting wrwcanada.com.

Extended responsibility

In the run-up to CE month, I recently attended the Conference on Canadian Stewardship in Toronto. The event attracted more than 400 delegates from across Canada and beyond, with this year’s theme of “EPR’s Journey to a Circular Economy:  Policy, Practice and Progress”. (“EPR” stands for “Extended Producer Responsibility,” a policy approach under which producers are given a significant responsibility— financial and/or physical—for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products, including tires, e-waste, batteries, and more.) 

The program kicked off with greetings from Canada’s Minister of Environment & Climate Change, the Hon. Stephen Guilbault, followed by a keynote address from Dacie Meng of the Ellen McArthur Foundation who encouraged delegates to think more broadly to achieve the three principles of Circular Economy—design out waste and pollution; keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems—noting these principles are an important and powerful policy tool. The remaining conference agenda included more keynote speakers and panel discussions on provincial EPR policies; circularity in the materials sector; EPR initiatives in Europe; and a new era for Canadian PROs (“PRO” stands for “producer responsibility organization,” an organization or industry association, designated by a producer or producers to act on their behalf to administer an EPR or product stewardship program.) 

Same players, different rules

When it comes to the management of end-of-life tires (ELT), of particular interest was the presentation delivered by Steve Meldrum, CEO of eTracks Tire Management Systems, who discussed the Ontario Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) marketplace and eTracks as an ELT PRO operating within this framework. It’s been nearly four years since Ontario Tire Stewardship was wound down and the new IPR framework launched. According to Steve, the transition has been both interesting and challenging, as all the same players (collectors, haulers, processors, recovered material product manufacturers, and producers) remained in place but all the rules have changed. Meldrum also spoke of two areas of competition: PROs for Producer Customers, and Service Providers for service contracts with PROs (or Producers directly), noting that this competition is both complicated and healthy. To learn more about the work of eTracks, read their annual report here.

While CE initiatives continue to take precedence with governments, industry, and other stakeholders, building reliable and effective EPR systems remains a complex and daunting undertaking. In Ontario, an 85% recovery rate target for all tires was achieved, with ELT becoming a resource for the creation of new value-added products such as livestock mats, construction aggregate, and even rubber-modified asphalt. The success of Ontario’s ELT management system proves that a CE can be achieved and achieved well. 



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