The CuttingEdge Tire Recycling plant near Ponoka is undergoing an expansion that should give it traction in new markets.
Work has already started on a 2,700-square-foot building for a mulch plant on CuttingEdge’s 30-acre property in Ponoka County.
The business, which is owned by Edmonton-based CleanGen Inc., has operated a tire shredding plant on the site for about seven years — collecting and processing everything from passenger vehicle tires to the tires from large mining trucks.
CleanGen CEO Bill Hunter said his company has now found new markets in the United States for mulch from big industrial tires, which have a high rubber content. There are opportunities to sell the recycled material for use in landscaping mulch, rubber tanks and other products, he said.
“It’s going to open up a lot of doors for us and we’re able to get a much higher value-added product from our giant mine tires.”
A release issued by Sunvault Energy Inc., a Washington state company that owns half of CleanGen, estimated that the new plant will boost CleanGen’s revenues by $3.5 million to $4.5 million a year.
“Our new plant will be one of a few in the world that can mulch giant mine tires and off-the-road agriculture tires,” said Sunvault president and CEO Gary Monaghan.
Construction of the building for the new mulch plant is expected to take about four weeks. The equipment for it is being transported to Ponoka from an existing tire recycling facility in the United States.
Hunter said CuttingEdge’s local payroll is expected to grow to about 16 from its current count of 10.
One of three tire-recycling plants registered with the Alberta Recycling Management Authority, CuttingEdge is the only one capable of processing big industrial tires.
Hunter said it processes about 15,000 to 20,000 tons of tires a year for the authority, with this work financed by the recycling fee collected upon the sale of new tires.
CuttingEdge also provides a tire disposal service for mining and other companies with large tires, with this accounting for about 5,000 tons of tires annually.
Much of the shredded material that CuttingEdge produces is dispersed across the province for municipal use.
“It’s typically used as a leachate layer in landfills,” said Hunter, adding that the shredded rubber has other applications.
“It’s also being used extensively in the United States for embankments, road allowances, vibration dampening on LRT tracks.”
CuttingEdge has been operating on 12.5 acres of land leased from Ponoka County. But CleanGen recently purchased this property, plus another 17.5 acres, from the county.
“We want a little bit more land ourselves for future opportunities, so if we add more plants for other value-added opportunities we have the land base to do that,” said Hunter.
He hinted that other opportunities are likely, with technologies being developed to make better use of recycled tires. With about five million tires disposed of annually in Alberta, and many more elsewhere in North America, the incentive to seek greater value for old tires is huge, said Hunter.
Sunvault’s partner in CleanGen is the Elizabeth Metis Settlement south of Cold Lake.