St. Marys Journal Argus
Up a set of metal stairs, in an observation room overlooking the cavernous industrial space that Green Arc Tire Manufacturing aims to soon fill with over 300 busy employees, the St. Marys and area community got an opportunity last Friday to find out a little more about what the Greater Toronto-based company hopes to achieve.
“This would be a phenomenal turn-out for an event like this in an urban setting,” offered Ontario Safety League president Brian Patterson, surveying several dozen people looking over display boards and chatting with Green Arc representatives in the former Dana truck part factory’s observation room.
On Monday, Dec. 16, there was a somewhat more formal atmosphere as Green Arc COO Mike DiCenzo and others led a group of MPs, MPPs, town councillors and municipal staff through the same information.
Patterson has been a strong supporter of the tire remoulding plan for several months – to the degree that DiCenzo has identified the Safety League’s endorsement as one of the keys to securing investment into a business plan that bears some resemblance to proposals he had presented in past years in other locations, to less-than-enthusiastic response. And Patterson certainly played the role on Friday evening, mixing with the audience and making clear his passion about the environmental benefits of remoulding tires, and about the safety benefits of making available snow tires at a more affordable cost to consumers.
Speaking with the Journal Argus, he noted that visitors to the Open House were impressed by the “three pillars” of Green Arc’s plan: 1. The plant is going to be open. 2. Jobs are coming available. 3. It’s environmentally friendly. Other reasons for seeking out someone from Green Arc included “to meet (DiCenzo) and say ‘thanks for putting some money into our town’,” and to drop off resumes.
“They wanted us to know that there’s a skilled forklift operator available, or a skilled electrician,” Patterson said.
By the time Friday’s three-hour Open House wrapped up, about 240 people had climbed those metal stairs – a huge majority of them from St. Marys and area.
Aside from outlining the actual processes used to strip down the worn-out tread and sidewalls of used tires but maintain the intact core, the display boards also took visitors through the rationale for putting cost-effective snow tires on the market, and offered a very favourable comparison between the amount of energy used to create tires from newly manufactured material as opposed to the already-popular-in-Europe remoulding method. On these topics, Patterson was happy to respond to queries.
There were also explanations of the projected byproducts of the process, including “buff” rubber material that will be collected and shipped to recycling facilities, incoming used tires that are rejected by the plant’s high-tech inspection process – referred to by DiCenzo as similar to an MRI – and noise. And when detailed questions arose about these matters, it was Peter Klaassen who was called upon to respond.
Klaassen, from Guelph, is Senior Consultant with RWDI Consulting Engineers and Scientists. That’s the company currently shepherding Green Arc through its application to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment for an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) certificate to undertake its plan for the former Dana factory. Speaking to the Journal Argus, Klaassen expressed confidence that the matters covered by that application – including noise, waste rubber, and other byproducts from the remoulding process – have all been addressed by Green Arc.
The ECA is necessary for any facility at which over 5,000 used tires will be stored. “As Green Arc will store up to 200,000 used tires at any one time, (it) will retain a waste permit,” explained one of the display boards.
A huge majority of those tires will be destined for the remoulding process, so there’s no chance they’ll be stored long-term. One of the display boards at the Open House noted the tires that pass inspection will be “sorted by size, and possibly manufacturer, and stored in racks within the warehousing area of the building.”
In an interview in November with the Journal Argus, DiCenzo noted, all waste will be sent out immediately to the collection facilities supported by the Ontario Tire Stewardship program . . . Our purpose isn’t to accommodate scrap on site. It’s not in our business plan, and it’s not a liability we want to take.”
It seems likely, however, that there will be at least some degree of storage for the rejected tires at the site. Another display board indicates 1,042 used tires will be delivered to the factory per day in the first year of operation, rising to 12,500 per day by 2017. Of those, 156 per day would be rejected during the first year of operation, rising to 1,875 rejects per day by 2017.
According to Klaassen, those numbers are “probably a very conservative ratio” based on experiences in Europe and Brazil. He added there will be opportunities for prior inspection before the tires even make it onto a truck destined for Green Arc, so the number may be smaller.
Both the rejected tires, and the “buff” will go to facilities known as “crumbers,” he noted, which shred the material and use it for the construction of playground infrastructure, shoe soles, or road surfaces.
Klaassen added that the remoulded tires will be imprinted with information showing the tire’s core has been through Green Arc’s facility. That same core will never be allowed back into the plant for a second go-around as a remoulded tire.
“I think the key here is that what is done with these tires is exactly what is done with brand new tires . . . The only difference is that the core has been used once,” the consulting engineer said.