My apologies for the wisecracking title of this post (which properly should have been, “Minnesota Court of Appeals Upholds MPCA Order Requiring Removal of Tire-Shreds Used in Road Construction”). But the facts are, well, at least somewhat amusing.

Road construction project in Milpitas, California using tire-derived aggregate as the lightweight fill material. (Source: www.calrecycle.ca.gov)

Road construction project in Milpitas, California using tire-derived aggregate as the lightweight fill material. (Source: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov)

On July 29, 2013, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed an order by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) requiring Minnikka Properties to remove waste-tire shreds from driveways constructed at the company owner’s residence in Brunswick Minnesota. In re Minnikka Properties, LLC, 2013 WL 3868092 (Minn. Ct. App. 2013). Minnikka’s owner also owned First State Tire Disposal, a waste-tire processing facility, which provided the tire shreds for the driveway construction. Minnesota rules exempt waste such as tire-shreds from solid-waste management requirements (which can get expensive) if the waste is utilized in accordance with a “beneficial use” determination–that is, the would-be waste is reused in a way that the MPCA considers environmentally beneficial. Minn. R. 7035.2860, subp. 3. However, to constitute a beneficial use, the waste must not be used in quantities that exceed accepted engineering standards. Id., subp. 2(E). Which makes sense: if someone is using more of the waste than they really need for the beneficial use, it starts to look more like waste disposal instead of reuse.

In the Minnikka case, the evidence before MPCA indicated that whereas accepted engineering practice was to use 6 to 18 inches of tire shreds in road construction for frost-heave protection, Minnikka used 8 to 10 feet of tire shreds beneath the surface of the driveways. Based on this evidence, MPCA suspected Minnikki’s actions were “an effort to dispose of waste tire material.”

You don’t say.

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