Burning tires to fuel fires

The Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Mangement District collects old tires to use as an alternative fuel source
Sunday, October 30, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:59 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

People looking to get rid of their old tires Saturday had an opportunity to dispose of them at the Boone County Fairgrounds. The Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District administered a waste tire collection where residents could pay to have unwanted tires scrapped. The district accepted car tires for $1 each and tires larger than 16 inches for $5. Tires brought in with rims were charged double the price.

Last year the tire collection was free, but the costs of dealing with the tires forced District Coordinator Matthew Harline to charge money for the service.

“We started charging money this year to make the program sustainable,” he said. “We did some surveys and found more and more people were using us to dump their tires as opposed to tire dealers.”

When tires are not disposed of properly they provide a suitable habitat for mosquito breeding grounds and pose a risk of tire fires. For those reasons it has been illegal to dump tires in Missouri landfills since 1991.

Boone County Solid Waste Coordinator Thaddeus Yonke said the tire collection was running more smoothly this year than it had in the past.

“It’s more manageable now that we’re charging people,” Yonke said. “The lines are much shorter this year, and people are more appreciative because they aren’t having to wait in line.”

Columbia resident Robbie Ketchum took advantage of the opportunity to dispose of his old tires. He said he thought the service was helpful.

“My tires would still be laying in a pile somewhere if I didn’t bring them here,” Ketchum said.

The tires and the money collected by the district will go to Alternative Fuel Source The company will grind the tires into half-inch chips and take them to a power plant where they will be mixed with coal to produce fuel. The solid waste district estimates that about 70 percent of tires recycled in Missouri are burned with coal to produce electricity.

Alternative Fuel Source Supervisor John Colster said tire-derived fuel burns hotter and cleaner than coal.

“We are averaging about three million tires a year,” Colster said.

Harline estimated they would receive 22 to 24 tons of tires during the collection. Last year at the free collection held in Boone County, the district collected 81.75 tons of tires. That cost the district more than $11,000.

“We had to start charging, otherwise all of our money was going to tire cleanup.” Yonke said.

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