Stump the Recycler returns: Tires tackled!

  • Sarah Jackson
  • Tuesday, October 30, 2007 2:09pm
  • Life

When I started the Stump the Recycler feature for Eco Geek in July, I didn’t really think I’d be all that stumped.

One of the first topics I investigated, however – old tires — has been surprisingly complex and challenging, especially if you’re dealing with more than a few tires.

Brady from Stanwood posed the original question of where to recycle about 30 tires he found on a piece of property he and his wife had just purchased: “Free recycling is best,” Brady said. “But (we) will consider any reasonable alternatives.”

Tires, it turns out, are ecological beasts when handled incorrectly.

Not only are they derived from non-renewable petroleum, but they also, when stored in random piles outside, become home to rats and mosquitoes and pose a serious fire threat.

In fact, Everett was home to one of the worst tire fires in state history in the 1980s at the site of an Everett landfill where about a million stored tires burned for days and smoldered for months. Because of such environmental hazards, there is a $1 fee on the retail sale of every new vehicle tire to help pay for tire-pile clean up throughout the state.

Brady, you’re right to try to get those tires cleaned up ASAP.

Disposing of tires in Snohomish County is relatively easy, if you have only a few.

Snohomish County transfer stations accept tires five at a time for a minimum garbage fee of $17, good for up to 360 pounds of garbage but, again, only five tires.

Though tires are recyclable, Snohomish County transfer stations treat them as trash for the landfill.

Why?

In short, county transfer stations do not have the space to store tires for specialized pick up and there would be an additional cost to do so, which could deter people who might then dump extra tires illegally, creating more tire piles, something the Department of Ecology is desperate to stop.

“We have not made the decision to pass that charge onto the customers at the transfer stations,” said Snohomish County planner and recycling guru Sego Jackson.

In Washington, an estimated 5 million waste tires are generated each year with about 25 percent of those waste tires ending up in landfills. Tires, to make matters worse, can become a nuisance in landfills, where they tend to move around after they’re buried.

Jackson admits using the county’s disposal method isn’t the best because tires are actually recyclable. He’s hoping Snohomish County can eventually create a program similar to the Tire Stewardship BC program in British Columbia, where tire disposal is the sole responsibility of industry.

Tires, after all, can be made into crumb rubber for soft black gym flooring. They can also be used in cement kilns for fuel. Tires can also be converted into materials for civil engineering projects such as backfill for retaining walls along the highways.

That leaves you, Brady, with a couple other options for actual recycling:

First, there are tire dealers: You could take your tires to an environmentally friendly tire or auto shop for recycling for free or a possibly fee, depending on the policies of the shop.

Les Schwab, for example, accepts customers’ used tires for free recycling. If you’re not buying tires, Les Schwab will charge $1 per car or light-truck tire or more for larger tires. Tires with metal rims still attached are not usually accepted.

Les Schwab was recently honored with an environmental excellence award from the Association of Washington Business for tire stewardship and environmentally friendly reuse and recycling. In addition to using local recyclers, Les Schwab also sends tires to RB Rubber of Portland, which uses rubber chips for workout studios and playground equipment.

Most tire dealers pay to have their tires managed by regional tire recyclers such as L&S Tire of Tacoma or Tire Disposal &Recycling of Auburn.

Both companies supply companies in need of scrap tires. Though there isn’t enough demand for all the tires to be recycled or reused, at least 50 percent of the tires captured go to recycling and the rest are disposed of safely in landfills or so-called monofills dedicated exclusively to shredded tires.

Second, you can go directly to local recyclers: Though most tire recyclers prefer to work with larger loads, most companies serve the greater Puget Sound area and can probably help you for a price. In order to get a pick up, you’ll need to put the tires in a place accessible to a large truck or semi. Here are a few options to check out:

Tire Disposal &Recycling in Auburn offers a pick-up service for a minimum of 50 tires or a fee of $1.15 per tire or $57.50. Call 877-653-8973 or see www.tiredisposal-recycling.com. (Brady, this might be your cheapest pick-up option.)

L&S Tire in Tacoma accepts tires by appointment or you can hire the company to pick up your tires for a minimum $100 fee. Call 253-582-5556 or see www.lstire.com.

Larry’s Auto and Truck Parts and Tire Recycling Center – 199 Pease Road, Burlington; 360-757-7444; http://travel.to/larrys – recycles tires by making them into tightly compressed blocks, some of them encased in stamped concrete, used for retaining walls and erosion control. Regular vehicle tires, which must be clean and off their rims, are accepted for $1 each. Tires with rims can be dropped off for $3.50 per tire. Call for prices for larger tires. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Pick up service is available for 100 or more tires and an extra pick-up fee. Brady, you can call Larry’s for a pick-up quote or to make arrangements for a drop-off site in Stanwood so you don’t have to go all the way to Burlington.

Good luck, Brady.

Please let me know how it goes!

Stump the Recycler: Do you have a hard-to-recycle or odd item you want out of your life? Write me with your question and I’ll do my best to get you answers.

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