By Suzanne Michaels and Isabel Walter

A huge pile of illegally dumped tires in Doña Ana County could be used beneficially.  A recent workshop focused on ways to reduce abandoned tires and put them to use.  (Courtesy photo)
A huge pile of illegally dumped tires in Doña Ana County could be used beneficially. A recent workshop focused on ways to reduce abandoned tires and put them to use. (Courtesy photo)

Representatives from agencies as far away as Washington D.C. and Monterrey Mexico attended a local Tire Management Workshop last week to come up with solutions to an issue that plagues every state in the nation – what to do with scrap tires.

The problem: an estimated 1 tire per person per year is discarded in the U.S. The good news is more than 85% of used tires have a known end market. But that still leaves an estimated 1 billion stockpiled scrap tires stacked next to buildings, in warehouses, or dumped in our mountains, desert, and lakes. That’s generally thought to be because people don’t want take their tires to a disposal site and pay the $1.50 disposal fee.

That’s 1 billion abandoned tires that could be used beneficially, but instead pose a huge fire risk and can quickly become a breeding center for mosquitos with that thrive with even a small rainfall. The still water pooling in tires provides the setting for growing mosquito populations that can carry West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, Malaria, Encephalitis and Yellow Fever, according to John Ockels, Ph.D., one of the speakers at the Workshop.

There are numerous beneficial uses for recycled tires – including as a fuel source in the production of cement. But the best use, according to several of the speakers at the Workshop, is rubberized asphalt.

Cliff Ashcroft, Vice-President of California Operations, of the non-profit Rubber Pavement Association, agrees. “Rubber modified asphalt,” Ashcroft says, “is a tremendous second use for tires. You end up with a very high quality pavement that can be used in all climates, is much longer lasting that standard paved asphalt, is quieter to drive on, and results in reduced accidents and fatalities.” Those are just some of the benefits, according to experts who spoke at the Workshop.

Panel participants at the July 10 tire management workshop were Dan Delager, an engineering consultant; Steve Niemeyer of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; John Sheerin of the Rubber Manufacturers Association and End of life Tire Programs; and and Cliff Ashcroft of the Rubber Pavement Association. (Courtesy photo)
Panel participants at the July 10 tire management workshop were Dan Delager, an engineering consultant; Steve Niemeyer of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; John Sheerin of the Rubber Manufacturers Association and End of life Tire Programs; and and Cliff Ashcroft of the Rubber Pavement Association. (Courtesy photo)

Workshop speakers said the rubber modified asphalt is used extensively in California, Texas and Arizona, as well as other states throughout the nation (and globally) and its popularity is growing as the process of mixing the rubber into the asphalt – the time/temperature formula – is better understood and perfected. In New Mexico, some roads have been paved very successfully with rubberized asphalt; locally Highway 54 between Northeast El Paso and Alamogordo.

The South Central Solid Waste Authority (SCSWA) is moving forward in managing scrap tires and finding a beneficial end product for scrap tires; the agency began shredding tires last April to move beyond landfilling tires and to eliminate the vector issues associated with tires collected during illegal dumping cleanups throughout Dona Ana County.

Workshop participants included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Rio Grande Council of Governments, Border 2020, the City of El Paso and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

Green Connections is submitted by the South Central Solid Waste Authority (SCSWA), managing solid waste, recyclables, and fighting illegal dumping for residents and businesses in the City of Las Cruces and Doña Ana County. You can reach the SCSWA at (575) 528-3800.