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Q & A

The Brookfield plant is old. What makes you think that it won’t break and release harmful emissions?

The Brookfield plant has a proud 50 year history of contributing to the construction industry and community. The plant has received multiple investments and upgrades over the years. This project is another great example of how we continue to modernize the plant.

Does the Brookfield plant meet emission limits?

The plant meets modern emission limits, both Provincial and Federal.  The further investment in a lower carbon fuel scrap tire system will modernize the plant further and reduce CO2 and NOx emissions.

Doesn’t multiple waste streams used as low-carbon fuel create unstable combustion and therefore release more toxic emissions in the air?

The plant is already successfully using multiple sources of lower carbon fuels like shingles, glycerine, non-recyclable plastics.  The plant team has decades of experience  running the plant and is supported by an international team of experts.  Its primary purpose is to produce quality cement in an environmentally sustainable manner. Any fuel that is at odds with this primary purpose is curtailed.

Is there any life-cycle assessment that supports your claim that using tires as low-carbon fuel will lower CO2 emissions?

Multiple life-cycle assessments exist and point to numerous benefits of using scrap tires in cement kilns, benefits that are typically better than other recovery strategies.  However, Lafarge cannot use more than one third of Nova Scotia’s scrap tires and supports other positive uses of scrap tires.

A published 2011 peer reviewed paper in the Clean Technology and Environmental Policy Journal reports the following: “The use of scrap tires for fuel in cement plants provides more reductions in most environmental impact categories compared to other scrap tire applications, excluding application in artificial turf.  Although the use of ground rubber for artificial turf offers the greatest environmental reductions, it has limited potential for large-scale utilization due to the saturated market for artificial turf.”  This whole paper is available here.

As announced in 2016, the Dalhousie University project team is planning to conduct a life cycle assessment in the Nova Scotia / Atlantic Canada context to assess various scrap tire management strategies.

Why are you doing a pilot in Brookfield if you say that the process is used all over the world?

Although there is extensive, long running, successful, and safe use of scrap tires throughout the world, in addition to the lab scale work done by Dalhousie, the research team is cautiously proposing first to validate the expected beneficial results in the Brookfield cement plant and to share these results with the community.  The plant has proposed a 1-year pilot to confirm the expected results.  Only after confirmation of safe performance is received will the plant proceed to apply for a permanent Approval to use scrap tires.

There is a globally accepted waste diversion hierarchy with reduce at the top and fuel diversion at the bottom. Should we not concentrate on recycling instead of fuel diversion?

Scrap tires are not recycled into new tires when they are shredded for aggregate applications and other similar products – nor for fuel replacement. All of these technologies are a form of material or energy recovery which are lower on the hierarchy than recycling.  The best re-use of any manufactured good is one that has the best environmental outcomes, has robust markets for products produced from the original waste material, and produces high value products. Scrap tire use in cement kilns meets all of these criteria. Cement is a highly valuable product with a significant market. Life cycle assessments point to use as fuel in cement plants as among the highest in environmental ranking.

How many people work at the Brookfield Cement Plant?

There are 70 unionized, skilled manufacturing jobs at the Brookfield cement plant.  Investing in lower carbon fuels such as scrap tires will contribute to the plant’s sustainability and preserve these high value jobs for years to come.

How many tires will Lafarge be using at the plant?

The plant is proposing to use about one third of the scrap tires generated in Nova Scotia leaving significant quantities of scrap tires for other processors. This 1/3 represents about 350 000 tires a year.

How can you say it is only a pilot project when you are investing up to $2 million on plant retrofits?

It’s simply a fact that Lafarge will only receive a 1-year pilot approval. This will provide the opportunity to demonstrate the project’s efficiency and safety and to validate the positive benefits expected from research and from longstanding experience in cement kilns.  The investment is evidence of Lafarge’s confidence in its technology.

Scrap tires will be used as fuel. What will it replace?

The plan is to further remove petcoke as a fuel and replace it with safe, low carbon fuels such as scrap tires. When the project is complete, the plant will be able to replace 50% of its petcoke with lower carbon fuels which will place it amongst the top global performers.

Why doesn’t the plant use Natural Gas instead?

Heritage gas does not serve the plant.

Ontario rejected tire-burning. Why should Nova Scotia accept it?

Ontario has an extensive market for crumb rubber products which Nova Scotia does not. And, the science has progressed since 2006 allowing Nova Scotia to make its own decisions that maximize benefits to it own citizens.  The Ontario government has recognized the value of low carbon fuels in cement plants in its carbon strategy and has set aside funds to facilitate this.

Where in the world are tires currently used as low-carbon fuel?

Scrap tires are used for cement production in British Columbia and Quebec as well as numerous US states (e.g. California, New York, Pennsylvania, etc.) and numerous European countries like Sweden, France and Germany.

What will be the effect of the use of scrap tires on the emissions?

Scrap tires reduce emissions of both CO2 and NOx with negligible effects on other emissions. The 1-year pilot study allows Lafarge to demonstrate and validate this at the Brookfield cement plant.

Where will Lafarge get the tires needed for the pilot project?

Lafarge was a bidder to a public RFP led by Divert Nova Scotia to use 3500 tonnes per year of scrap tires (equivalent to 350 000 tires) and met all the bidding criteria – and won a contract subject to gaining the necessary approvals.

The province launched public consultations on a new solid waste strategy and it has not produced a new strategy yet. Should we not wait for the results of this consultation before making decisions?

In this case, the project will itself bring forward evidence to allow policy makers to make better decisions. This research will build on research in other jurisdictions that show scrap tire use as fuel in cement kilns as among the best choices for scrap tire management. Solutions should be assessed on their merits in the context of real sustainability. Inclusion of lower carbon fuels also helps Nova Scotia reach its carbon reduction goals while retaining high value manufacturing jobs.

In 2007, the government had a similar request from Lafarge and appointed a panel to assess burning vs. recycling; recognizing that burning tires would be a major policy shift. Why is this a good idea now?

The panel concurred that scrap tire use was an environmentally sound option, so no major policy concerns were identified. They suggested that aggregate use be explored first.  This is not a recycling option but rather a material recovery solution.

Dr. Gibson was one of the panel members and has conducted more research into the fuel use option, including combustion testing in his lab, and recommends its inclusion in the range of solutions available for Nova Scotia tires.

A lot has changed since 10 years ago, the plant has more experience with lower carbon fuels, more research has taken place, the importance of carbon reduction has increased, the plant is installing a comprehensive set of continuous emission monitors, and governments are recognizing the importance of a low carbon economy.

Don’t tires cause black smoke when burned?

Low temperature, open uncontrolled burning is indeed bad for the environment.  That’s what makes tire stockpiles dangerous.  In contrast, cement kilns use fuel under very controlled conditions and at such high temperatures that we don’t expect any significant change is emissions except a reduction in CO2 and NOx.  This is based on over 40 years of international use of scrap tires in cement kilns and what we have learned from Dalhousie research.

Regardless of the experience of other plants, it is important that we proceed cautiously and take the time to confirm these results before extended, routine use of tires as fuel proceeds at Brookfield.

Did you know? The average temperature in the combustion zone in a cement plant is 1,450 Celsius, that’s one quarter the temperature of the sun’s surface.

Will Nova Scotia tire management fees go down with Lafarge’s involvement?

This is a question best left with Divert Nova Scotia.  Our first priority is to work with Dalhousie to confirm that scrap tires can be safely used at Brookfield.

What happens with the “leftovers” of the tire after it is used as fuel?

It’s worth noting that the iron and silica present in scrap tires is recycled into cement and reduces the amount of sand and other raw materials needed to make cement.  There are no byproducts resulting from the switching of coal to other fuels.

What is the heating value of scrap tires?

Scrap tires have an excellent heating value.  In fact, compared to other commonly used solid fuels, the heating value is 25-50% higher than coal and 100-200% higher than wood.

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