Almost every state legislature has convened for the year, and a few have already finished their regular sessions. In the rest, bill introduction deadlines and chamber crossover deadlines are quickly approaching, so recyclers should keep a close eye on the amendments that will impact their businesses. ISRI makes it easy to view the bills and regulations targeting tires and rubber as well as other commodities and issues on our State Resources and Tracking pages.
After relative quiet in the opening weeks of 2019, bills banning or restricting synthetic turf and recycled rubber infill have started creeping back onto the scene. ISRI members have testified against bills in Connecticut and Maryland and watching for movement on competing measures in New York, but compared to previous sessions, the appetite to push legislation that conflicts with the findings of existing, peer-reviewed scientific studies appears to be waning.
In Connecticut, HB 5249 would ban state and municipal entities from entering into contracts for the purchase, use, or installation of artificial turf starting on October 1, 2019. HB 7003 would require a similar moratorium for local governments and boards of education until the U.S. EPA releases the findings from their federal study.
The New York Senate is currently considering two bills; the first, SB 1109, calls for a study by the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation and Dept. of Health, and requires a moratorium on installations of synthetic turf for 6 months or until the study is complete. It would also require a site-specific environmental impact statement for action that includes the installation of synthetic turf. The second, SB 4028, only calls for a state study.
But the most unique proposals this year come from Maryland. HB 1118 would establish a statutory preference for "grass athletic fields" and "natural surface materials" while also banning state funds from being used to finance any portion of a project to build a new or replace an existing playground or athletic field with a synthetic surface, including any ground cover made from plastic, rubber, or tires. Similar versions were introduced in 2018 but did not move past their initial committees.
MD HB 1142, however, is entirely new, and would require that synthetic turf and turf infill (any turf infill, not just crumb rubber) be disposed of in a controlled hazardous substance facility or at a closed loop recycling facility, bans incineration, and states that turf and infill may only be reused if processed at a closed loop facility and used for new turf and infill. It also tasks the Maryland Dept. of the Environment (MDE) with setting up a system to track the chain of custody for turf and infill from the manufacturer to the facility that accepts the material for disposal or reuse, and requires that the MDE publish the chain of custody on its website.
While 6 bills in 3 states is an improvement over previous years, these all still represent threats to the environmental and economic benefits of tire recycling, based off claims that are not supported by the available scientific findings.
Extended Producer Responsibility
In a definite improvement over previous years, so far there are no bills specifically targeting tires with extended producer responsibility (EPR) model systems. While Massachusetts HB 810 includes tires in a long list of products that would be considered for a state study on implementing EPR laws in the commonwealth, similar measures have not had legs in past sessions. Vermont and Connecticut will remain the states to watch on this until their legislatures adjourn in May and June, respectively.
Arkansas HB 1362 tasks the state's Compliance Advisory Panel with assisting state and local officials in implementing, administering, and funding the collection, recycling, and disposal of extra-large tires, and earmarks $300,000 for this purpose. While Arkansas HB 1430 is also marked as a tire bill that passed this year, it simply amends various provisions relating to tire recycling to replace references to "regulations" with "rules" in order to be consistent throughout the statutes.
While it is still awaiting the governor's action, Utah SB 46 has passed the legislature with amendments to how tire transporters and recyclers are reimbursed for the removal of tires from abandoned tire piles and landfills