Upstate Shredding supports tire recycling in Tioga County

Due to a $10,000 per year, 5-year donation totaling $50,000 from businessman Adam Weitsman, president of Owego-based Upstate Shredding, Tioga County is cleaning up more old tires than ever before. Moreover, this highly successful tire recovery program is helping preserve the scenic beauty of this historic, rural county in the southeastern corner of the Finger Lakes Region of New York.

“There’s been a noticeable decline in the number of tires littering the county. We used to see it all the time, but now we only see it occasionally. I used to have residents call and let me know about abandoned tires, but now I’m not getting those calls,” said Ellen Pratt, Tioga’s solid waste manager.

Before the Upstate donation, Tioga County’s solid waste budget was stretched tight and there was little money to address the nagging, unsightly, and environmentally hazardous problem of recovering and responsibly recycling used tires. New York State’s Waste Tire Management and Recycling Act was enacted solely to ensure the proper management of waste tires. To comply, Tioga has to ship its tires to a certified recycler at a cost of over $100 dollars per load.

As a result, Tioga, like many solid waste jurisdictions across the country, was forced to charge fees to accept old tires at their recycling facilities. Fees range from $2 for 17 inch tires to $12 for 36 inch, and there are additional fees up to $5 if tires are mounted on rims.

The national problem with fee-based municipal programs is that it encourages hording, or illegal dumping, both endangering the environment and causing fire hazards.

Under the Upstate-sponsored program, Tioga County is now holding free, tire drop-off events, lasting from three days to one week in the towns of Owego, Barton, Candor, Spencer and Tioga. “In the towns that have participated, it has been really successful. They are enthusiastic about cleaning up their old tires. So far, we have cleaned up over 250 tons of tires. Upstate’s donation covers the cost of disposal,” said Pratt. In addition to providing free tire disposal, the program also accepts tires collected along the roads by municipal workers.