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  • County residents may recycle five vehicle tires for free

    Jan 12, 2022 | Read More News
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    By Mary Reynolds
    Pima County Communications

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


    County residents may take their vehicle tires to be recycled for free to the Pima County Waste Tire Collection facility at 5301 W. Ina Road. It’s open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Friday. The facility is operated by Crumb Rubber Manufacturers (CRM), which transports tires from Pima to their facility in Mesa for recycling.  

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

    “CRM machines remove everything except the rubber. Then they crush the rubber. Next it goes through screening, decontamination, and a very fine crushing machine called a granulator.” 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. CRM 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. Arizona requires every County to have a waste tire collection site.
    tire piles

    Tires are stored temporarily at Ina Road, then taken to CRM to be recycled and repurposed.
    tire piles

    Muñoz loves coming to work each day: “Being new to DEQ’s Solid Waste Division has been pretty incredible. I've learned so much and I enjoy wholeheartedly contributing to the safety and protection of our environment, for generations to come.”  

    “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. 

    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.

    “Inside the yard, it’s clearly marked where to go. Follow the signs to the scale house where you will be greeted by CRM staff,” Muñoz said.  

    On average, six semi-trailer trucks per day haul tires to the CRM facility in Mesa.

    Each year, the trucks haul about 950,000 tires from Pima County to be recycled.

    That’s a lot of playground puzzle pieces.