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Pima County partners with Mesa firm to recycle tires

Turn old tires into football fields. Or soccer fields. Or any other field that is rubber-based.

Pima County residents recycle nearly 1 million tires each year, through a partnership with Pima County and Mesa company Crumb Rubber Manufacturers. Tires are collected at at 5301 W. Ina Road. It’s open from 8 a.m.  to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. 

CRM uses graters and screeners to remove tire contaminants like fluff and wire, said Fatima Muñoz, program coordinator in the Solid Waste division of the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality.

The recycling process uses machines to remove everything except the rubber, before crushing the rubber. Next the rubber goes through screening, decontamination and a very fine crushing machine. The final product, crumb rubber, is sold to manufacturers of rubber-based products.

In addition to sports fields, rubber from recycled tires goes into asphalt for roads and also into the rubber puzzle pieces that form a soft surface at children’s playgrounds. Crushed Rubber Manufacturers is even a supplier to the company that makes NFL fields.

Since 2003, tires have been designated “regulated waste products” and are banned from landfills. The state requires every county to have a waste tire collection site. Tires are stored temporarily at Ina Road, then taken to CRM to be recycled and repurposed and recycling them provides an option to tossing them in the desert.

“We want to discourage wildcat dumping, so we encourage residents to bring tires to our collection site,” she said.

Anyone with more than five tires to recycle must fill out this form. Residents recycling five or fewer tires do not need to complete this form.

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The facility is funded through the purchase of new tires. The fees businesses charge for the sale of new tires are sent to the state of Arizona. Businesses that pay these fees register with the County program (which CRM operates), so that residents can recycle up to five passenger vehicle tires for free.

“All of the fees collected by the state are distributed to the Counties based on the number of registered vehicles in the County,” Muñoz explained. “We use the funds to operate the tire yard and recycle tires.”

At the collection yard, residents will see piles of tires. Tires are sorted by type: semi-trailer tires, passenger tires, tires with rims, and off-road tires.

Follow the signs to the scale house where the tires will be received.

According to Pima County Department of Environmental Quality, on average, six semi-trailer trucks per day haul tires to the CRM facility in Mesa and haul about 950,000 tires from Pima County to be recycled.

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Pima County has partnered with a Mesa firm to offer tire recycling and stave off wildcat dumping.