It only takes 926 words to destroy an industry. 926 words may not sound like much, many Facebook postings are double or triple that (in fact, this message comes in at 812 words). But that’s all it takes.
I was recently alerted to an introduced bill in New Hampshire by ISRI’s State Legislative Monitoring System that “prohibits the use of recycled tire rubber at village, town, municipal, and public school playgrounds”. It is very easy to overlook this bill because it’s not dozens of pages long. With all the time pressures we have running our businesses - making sure the shredder doesn’t go down, managing our truck fleet, ensuring our shipments are going out on time, it’s easy to overlook 926 words. But like I said, that’s all it takes.
While the bill’s analysis focuses on artificial turf, the way the bill is written actually casts a much wider net. No loose fill products, no poured-in-place products, no artificial turf, nothing that uses crumb rubber in its manufacture to be used as a ground cover. I could even get a little creative in the interpretation of this bill and suggest that rubberized asphalt used to cover a playground’s parking lot, or used to surface a nature trail would also be banned. The net just keeps getting wider. Should the bill pass, we would be locked out of marketing our material to the good people of New Hampshire.
The bill’s analysis is very one sided – it mentioned about 10 studies since 2007 that cite potential hazards using crumb rubber. It does not mention the literally hundreds of studies done here in the U.S. and internationally since 2007 that come to the opposite conclusion. Many on the “anti-crumb rubber side” are looking for any excuse to ban our materials. They are using fear, uncertainty and doubt to promote their cause. We are using science and logic to refute their claims but that may not assuage the fears of an uneducated public. That’s why it’s important to speak to our state and local legislators every chance we get. By talking to them and giving them the resources they need to better understand the totality of the issue, they will be in a better position to vote against such legislation.
As with every ISRI effort, the bottom line is, if we don’t want 926 words to destroy an industry, we need to get in the game and make calls to our legislators. Invite them to your yard for a site visit. Show them all the benefits and good recycling does for the economy and the environment. And most importantly, have them talk to your employees and make them realize if they vote for a bill like this, they may be sending their constituents to the unemployment line.
I’ll conclude this edition’s message by encouraging you to contact ISRI and find out how you can use ISRI’s State Legislative Tracking System, the resources on ISRI’s website, and how ISRI staff can help you get your message out to your local legislators. And of course, you can always feel free to contact me. I’m happy to talk to you.
ISRI Tire and Rubber Division Chair