Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recycle old tires and get $1 each

It doesn't sound like a lot of money, but hopefully this program will pay off. From today's Commercial Appeal...

Shelby County to combat illegal tire dumping with rewards, restrictions
By Daniel Connolly

To combat illegal tire dumping, the Shelby County Commission passed an ordinance Monday that puts new restrictions on tire businesses and pays people $1 for each discarded tire they turn in.

The commission's 9-0 vote sends the measure to acting Mayor Joyce Avery for her signature.

The Memphis City Council is considering a similar proposal.

The reward program will last one year, but the government could vote to renew it.

Citizens will likely jump at collecting the tires that litter vacant lots and other sites throughout Memphis, said Jeffrey T. Higgs, executive director of the Lemoyne-Owen College Community Development Corp., which aims to renew a blighted part of South Memphis.

"I think you're going to see some folks in pickup trucks who are going to go around picking up these tires," Higgs said.

The ordinance is meant to combat several problems. A major one is the illegal dumping of tires by truck drivers who are paid to take them to a recycling center.

Under the new rules, truck drivers will only be paid if they present proof that they disposed of tires properly. Businesses will be required to keep records of how they got rid of tires.

Another problem the ordinance is meant to address is the illegal resale of worn-out tires. Tire businesses will have to make waste tires unusable, probably by slashing them, said Commissioner Steve Mulroy, who sponsored the measure.

Among the ordinance's other requirements is that tire businesses must register with the city, pay a licensing fee, and be open to random inspections.

Those who break the rules -- for instance, by dumping tires -- could face fines of up to $50 per tire.

And most notably, the ordinance sets up the fund to reward people who recycle. Mulroy said both the city and the county are chipping in $50,000 each toward a reward fund, though that amount isn't included in the ordinance that passed Monday.

Mulroy anticipates that the number of tires lying around Memphis will diminish as people start hauling them in. Eventually, the dumping will level off.

"We'll still have illegally dumped tires, but it won't be a chronic problem," he said.

No tire industry representatives came to the meeting Monday to speak against the proposal. Mulroy said the tire business people he met with supported the rules.

"They said, 'We are the legitimate businesses. The problem is our fly-by-night competitors,' " Mulroy recalled.

Tire recycling

For now, Shelby County is working with just one recycling center: Mac's Tire Recyclers at 3000 Elvis Presley Blvd, 396-5448.

The business apparently isn't set up yet to pay rewards for tires. A voice mail recording on Monday says it neither buys nor sells tires.

Shelby County plans to work with Memphis to enforce the ordinance.

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