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Large turnout at Waste Tire Amnesty Day

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By Navisha Collins

 LaRue Countians brought thousands of used tires to be recycled during last week’s Tire Amnesty.

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The program, sponsored by the Division of Waste Management and Recycling and Local Assistance, was originally designed as a one-time event. It’s now in its 15th year. This ongoing effort was designed to keep tire waste from being deposited in landfills. 

Funding for the program comes from legislation designed to collect a $1 fee on all tires collected by retailers. The fee is then deposited into the Waste Tire Trust Fund established by the Kentucky General Assembly. 

Jill Gray, Solid Waste Coordinator, along with employees from Liberty Tire and LaRue County inmates worked Thursday to sort through the trailer loads and truckloads of tires being brought in for disposal. 

“I used to be a part of the problem, now I can be part of the solution,” said inmate Andre Bradford. 

Rick Elder, Liberty Tire employee, has been working with the Waste Tire Amnesty program for 12 1/2 years. Liberty Tire is responsible for clearing the tire dump zone of Wonderland Road.  They work along with three other Kentucky companies to dispose of tires through different means. 

One of the companies that Liberty Tire works with is Owensboro Municipal Utilities. OMU takes ground tires and mixes them in with the coal supply to create TDF or tire derived fuel. This stretches the coal supply as well as disposes of tires in a manner that leaves little to no extra waste. 

A Louisville company called Cemex uses a high temperature kiln that is semi fueled by the burning of tire waste. 

Because many tires have wires within, burning in such a manner is the most popular method of disposal. However, tires that do not have wires within their construction are used in a much different manner. Those tires are sent to a different processing facility.

Martin Tire Operations collects tires from farm tractors and grinds them to create mulch to be used as playground material. The playground mulch creates a much softer, almost bouncy surface which helps prevent most injuries. Also the mulched material has been used in walking and running tracks. With its slightly bouncy texture it is believed that the track surface possesses the ability prevent common runner injuries like shin splints. 

All of these operations together have helped to remove 19 million waste tires from Kentucky.