A tire collection and recycling program at the Montezuma County landfill has been successful.
More than 26,000 tires were brought to the landfill by hundreds of residents as part of an effort to clean up the community, said landfill manger Mel Jarmon.
The mountain of tires is being fed into an industrial shredder, a process that will take a few weeks. The piles of shredded tires will be used as an alternative daily cover at the landfill.
Every day, the new garbage must be covered, and it is usually done with soil mined from the landfill property.
But soil reserves are depleting, Jarmon said, so they obtained a special permit from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment to shred the tires for use as a cover.
During the weeklong collection period in August, residents could drop off tires at no charge. The line of vehicles with tires stretched for a half-mile down the entrance road into the landfill.
“We collected more than expected. People really appreciated getting rid of their old tires and cleaning up their properties. It was a good community project,” Jarmon said.
Usually, the landfill charges $2.50 to dispose of a car tire and $18.90 for a truck tire. When they get a semitrailer load, they ship it to a tire recycling facility and break even on the costs.
The industrial shredder cost $25,000 to rent for a month. The Montezuma County Health Department received a $4,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment toward the rental, and the landfill picked up the rest of the tab. The landfill program also collected residential tree and bush trimmings, which will be shredded and added to a compost product that is available to the public.
In Towaoc, a similar tire recycling program took place. A pile of about 5,000 tires was shredded, and residents brought in hundreds more. The shredded tires will be used as cover at the transfer station and for other purposes.
During a tour of the shredding operation, landfill foreman Gary Nelson operated a front-end loader to slowly fill the shredder hopper with a few tires at a time to prevent clogging. Inside the unit, a drum with teeth grabs the tires and pushes them through cutters and rakes, chewing them up into 5- to 8-inch chunks and strips that are delivered up a conveyor belt and onto a large pile.
The shredder has been operating eight to 10 hours per day since Oct. 1 to process the giant tire pile, which has been reduced by more than half. Every so often, the diesel-powered unit has to be put into reverse to free up metal from the tires that have wrapped around the shredder drums.