If you’ve got old car tires kicking around your yard that you don’t plan making a swing or birdbath out of, Ashley Leibl has an invitation for you.
"They’re welcome to bring them here," said Leibl, co-owner of Reliable Tire Recycling (RTR) on Dublin Avenue.
"And when they do, they should go visit our showroom."
RTR processes about 90% of the 1.3 million scrap tires Manitobans generate each year.
If possible, they retread the tire and put it back on the road, but the majority get shredded and grinded and turned into a variety of products including sidewalk blocks, rubber matting, landscape mulch, synthetic grass fields and playground surfacing.
Tire retailers and landfills accept old tires at no charge, and RTR picks them up.
It’s a recycling program that Manitobans can be proud of, says Brett Eckstein, executive director of Tire Stewardship Manitoba (TSM), a non-profit agency charged with running the province’s tire recycling program since 2008.
"The tire industry as a whole — the people who sell tires, and consumers who participate — I think they can be very proud of the accomplishment," Eckstein said.
"We’re able to manage over a million tires a year with very little environmental impact."
Eckstein boasts that the $4.50 eco-fee Manitobans paid when buying a new tire was reduced to $4 at the start of 2013 due to "good cost control."
The fee funds TSM, which operates with three employees, and their Community Demonstration Grant, which is made available to communities and non-profit organizations that want to incorporate recycled tire material in a project.
Gordon Bell High School was recently awarded $20,000 (the grant maximum) to "purchase fine-crumb rubber for their synthetic turf field," Eckstein said.
Last June, due to increased demand, TSM increased the annual amount given under the matching-funds grant to $250,000 from $50,000.
When they began the grant in 2010 they helped fund four projects. Last year that number was 14, and Eckstein says they’re hoping to double that this year.
"We found that a lot of communities now are going to the pour-in-place rubber surface (for playgrounds)," he said.
Recycled rubber "shred" also makes a good sub-base for roads, Eckstein said.
In certain areas, depending on soil and moisture conditions, a rubber sub-base "helps stabilize the ground and also provides insulation (which) prevents the frost from travelling," and cracking the road surface, he said.
"Rubber aggregate is cheaper than granite, or other aggregates."
It’s a method he said has been used successfully in a few locations, but has not been adopted widely yet.
"Sometimes it’s difficult to convince people who build roads to use this material, just because it’s different," Eckstein said.
Leibl, who started RTR with partners in 1992, says a video link on their website (www.rtrrubber.ca) provides more information about tire recycling and all the products that come from it.