Nova Scotia

Recycling firm says burning tires would be taking 'a step backwards'

The operators of a tire recycling plant in Goodwood, N.S., are concerned that an application by a cement company to burn tires could mean they won't have enough supply to meet customer demand.

Halifax C & D Recycling stands to lose about 30 per cent of its tire supply under proposed project

Mike Chassie is vice-president of Halifax C & D Recycling Ltd. (CBC)

Mike Chassie's family business got a big boost following a government policy decision. Now he's hoping another government decision doesn't take away from that business.

Chassie is vice-president of Halifax C & D Recycling Ltd. in Goodwood. In 2009, when the province was looking for a way to divert tires from landfills, C & D bid on and won the contract and expanded its operation to include recycling tires.

Many uses for old tires

About a million tires a year are now brought to the company's site just outside Halifax where they're loaded onto a conveyer belt and passed through shredders until they're reduced to small pieces known as tire-derived aggregate.

Black mountains of the rubber aggregate sit outside, waiting to be hauled off for construction work such as provincial highway projects, drainage and septic projects, backfilling foundations and building developments.

The tire operation has 11 full-time employees, said Chassie.

"We've spent over $5 million in growing this business and getting it off the ground. We've developed the markets and … all of our tires are dedicated for jobs for the next three years and we're in danger of losing our supply of material for these jobs."

Potential challenges to the business

Chassie said the danger to their supply is an application by Lafarge Canada for a yearlong pilot project that would see Lafarge burn tires as fuel for the kiln at its Brookfield cement plant.

Lafarge has said the project would help the company reduce its greenhouse gas output because the tires would replace coal. But Chassie said the project would take away about 30 per cent of the tires that pass through C & D's yard as part of an operation that developed out of a desire from the provincial government.

"We need all the tires we can get for these jobs that we're going to have and by losing this supply of tires, it's going to start a negative trend and it's going to seriously negatively impact our business down the line," he said.

After tires go through the shredding process at Halifax C & D Recycling, they're reduced to small pieces known as tire-derived aggregate and used in construction projects. (CBC)

While Chassie obviously has a dog in the race on this matter, he said the province's record in the past decades when it comes to recycling should be top of mind as officials at the Environment Department prepare to rule on Lafarge's application.

"[Recycling] is something that Nova Scotia has been very successful at doing over the last 30 years and we should continue doing that," said Chassie.

"To start incinerating a recyclable product would be, I think, a step backwards."

A spokesperson for the Environment Department declined comment, other than to say that Environment Minister Iain Rankin would make a decision "based on the science and evidence provided."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

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