County Commissioners Study Impact of Delta County Tire Recycling Program

Feb 20, 2013

For years Delta County has allowed people to dump tires for free at its Adobe Buttes Landfill – a policy that they are now re-examining. Old tires are not popular at landfills. They take up a lot of space, they can trap methane gases and become housing for rodents. Burning tires pollute air, soil and water. So why has Delta County agreed to take them for free, no questions asked? Other counties either charge or refuse to take them into their landfills.

According to commissioners, the policy came about because people were dumping tires on BLM land and other undesirable places. It seemed better to get them to a central area and manage them responsibly, and commissioners hoped the free service would work to attract the pesky items.

Well, it did. Landfill manager Kevin Hunt told commissioners yesterday that the County had been stockpiling 735 tons of tires, accumulated over the past five years. The cost of shredding was also high. "Everything broke down when I crunched the numbers" Hunt said, "come out to 40, 997.38."

But that’s less expensive than the other options the county had considered. And the county should be reimbursed from a government fund that charges tires dealers $1.83 per new tire sold. At a reimbursement rate of $65 per ton, that comes out to more than $48,000 . On top of that, the shredded tires are coming in handy, and being used at the landfill for daily cover to keep trash from blowing away.

Still, commissioner Doug Atchley had a question. "The issue right now is where are all of these tires coming from?" he asked. Hunt said he has seen dump trucks and grain trucks full of tires dumped at the landfill. Commissioners wondered if they should ask dumpers for proof of county residency. But Hunt wasn’t eager.

"You’ve either gotta check the people’s driver’s license, or property tax records, " said Hunt.  "So somebody’s gonna have to stand there and check everybody coming in."

The commissioners had other questions too – about ewaste, about hazardous waste and about the frequency of pickup at the North Fork Recycling area. They will tackle the issues with Hunt at an upcoming work session. 

Hunt has been on the job for less than six months, but he hit the ground running. And despite their questions, the commissioners seem pleased with the progress at the landfill. Atchley said he was impressed with the tidiness of the site, and commissioner Bruce Hovde had a pat on the back for Hunt. "I think you’re doing a good job," said Hovde. "Thank you sir," Hunt replied.