Free tire disposal is at an end

It costs more than $80,000 to finance the annual collection.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:48 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mid-Missouri residents will now be charged a fee to dispose of their used tires at annual tire collections.

Previously, residents were permitted to dump old tires at no charge. Starting this fall, people will have to pay $1 to throw out tires measuring less than 16 inches and $5 for truck tires and other tires larger than standard size.

The Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District, which Boone County is a part of, decided that it can no longer finance the more than $80,000 it costs to complete each collection cycle.

District Coordinator Matt Harline said his office has limited funding to accomplish its responsibilities, which include issuing grants to cities and counties, paying overhead fees, increasing waste management education and carrying out tire collections.

“We were using so much of our money on these tire collections that we needed a new strategy,” he said. “The other thing is, people who have to get rid of their tires should have to pay for their removal.”

It takes about a year and a half for the Solid Waste Management District to administer a public scrap-tire collection in each of its eight counties: Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau and Osage. At the Boone County collection held in October 2004, 81.75 tons of tires — the equivalent of 8,175 passenger tires — were collected at a cost of more than $11,000 to the district and no cost to local residents.

Since 1991, it has been illegal to discard tires in Missouri landfills for sanitation and safety reasons. Dan Fester, scrap-tire unit chief at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said various hazards can result from the improper disposal of waste tires.

In the first place, he said, “waste tires are a wonderful habitat for disease-carrying vectors, including the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus.”

Second, there’s always a risk that tires will catch fire. “They’re a horrible source of pollution when they burn, causing health problems and contamination,” he said. “Third, there is the aesthetic problem, which directly or indirectly affects tourism.”

Starting in 1997, the district began having collection events to encourage tire disposal. Fester said Mid-Missouri is one of the few districts in the state that hold public collections.

Following each collection, the tires are hauled to Alternative Fuel Source, an energy company that grinds up the tires to be used for fuel. Forty collections and $400,000 later, the district decided to begin charging residents, partly because tire retailers were taking advantage of the system by charging customers the permitted $2 per tire and dumping the tires at collections for free.

The district’s new tire disposal cost will not apply to non-profit organizations. And all businesses will be prohibited from disposing of their waste tires at the collections. They will be responsible for disposing of their tires themselves.

People are permitted to have no more than 25 scrap tires on their property at any given time. Harline said that farmers tend to collect tires because they are useful to hold down tarps for silage, build fences and lessen stream bank erosion.

“You can only make so many rope swings,” he said.

The next district collection will be held Oct. 29, at the Boone County Fairgrounds. The district will come to individual properties to collect tires if an individual has more than 50 to dispose of.

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