Recycling of Tires

Hit Record Last Year

A record 80 percent of old tires were recycled for other uses including fuel and playground equipment in 2003, according to an industry report released Wednesday.

"Back in the early '90s when there was over a billion tires in stockpiles, no one knew what could be done with them, and the markets that did exist were very small," said Dan Zielinski, a spokesman with the Rubber Manufacturers Association, the group that funded the study.

In 1990, the first year a report was issued, only 11 percent of scrap tires were recycled. In 2001, 77.6 percent were recycled. Recycling is expected to grow to about 85 percent of discarded tires by 2006, the group estimated.

Last year, about 233 million old tires were recycled, compared with 290 million new tires produced.

Despite the growth, Zielinski said funding was cut for scrap tire cleanup programs in 16 states last year as a tight U.S. economy squeezed state budgets. Unless funding for scrap tires increases, tire stockpiles will grow, he said.

Medical Records May

Go Digital in HHS Plan

Medical records, a last bastion of paper and pen, may be dragged into the electronic age under a new strategy outlined by the U.S. government Wednesday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said he is appointing a panel of executives to figure out how much it will cost to switch hospitals, pharmacies and other bits and pieces of the health care system to computer-based technology. By the end of this year the panel is also to report on the potential benefits of such a switch.

Health care experts agree that going digital will reduce errors that kill up to 98,000 patients a year, speed many aspects of health care and reduce the paperwork burden.

Only 13 percent of hospitals and 14 to 28 percent of physicians' practices say they have electronic record-keeping systems, HHS said.

-- From News Services