Pima County uses state money to recycle tires

TUCSON, Ariz. — As drivers enter the new year, some might be in search of new tires for their car. The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality has a recycling program in place to help clean up the environment. Workers at the Pima County Tire Collection center at 5301W. Ina Road spend their days collecting thousands of tires for recycling. The county receives over 73,000 tires every month and those tires are sent to Mesa for recycling.

David Eaker with the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality says they have a contract with CRM America. The Mesa based company makes daily pick-ups, the company also works with other counties in the state. When new tires are purchased that $1 or $2 dollar fee per tire is re-purposed and sent back to the counties that collected the original fees.

CRM loads up about 1,200 tires per truck and those tires are processed and transformed into everything from football field turf to new asphalt that's used in Southern Arizona and across the state. The loads are weighed and calculated by the ton.

"It's used for rubberized asphalt on highways and that reduces noise dramatically," Eaker said.

Eaker says Pima County receives about 1.3 million dollars a year to pay for CRM and operations costs at the facility. Adding that the money can only be used for recycling purposes. He also says that any citizen can drop off 5 tires per year for free. As for the larger industrial tires, companies are charged $150 per ton because of the tire size and materials the tires are made from.

According to Pima County's 2018-2019 annual tire waste report, there are 139 tire dealers in the county signed up to drop off old tires at the site. Over the last year more than 830,000 tires have been collected at the facility. Eaker says its a win for everyone.

"There's been a dramatic reduction in the number of tires being dumped out in the desert," Eaker said.