Old tires were coming in at a steady pace Thursday on the first day of Houston County’s “tire amnesty” program.
People were already lined up to drop off tires free of charge when the collection started at 9 a.m., said Debra Jones, director of Keep Warner Robins Beautiful.
By 10:30 a.m., they had collected 100 tires at the courthouse annex on Carl Vinson Parkway in Warner Robins. Terry Dietsch, manager of the Houston County landfill, said the other two locations at the landfill and the county purchasing office in Perry were getting a similar amount of traffic.
At the end of the day, they had collected about 1,200 tires, with about 400 at each location. Dietsch thought the event would be busy based on the amount of calls he was getting about it, but that amount was even more than he had expected. He said it was the first time a tire amnesty has been held in his 20 years with the county.
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“I think it was well needed and we probably need to have more,” he said. “We don’t need to wait another 20 years.”
Although the event was not open to businesses, there was no limit on the number of tires, and some people were bringing in loads of 10 or more.
Others, such as Don Weeks, were bringing just one.
“I’ve been trying to get rid of this tire for three years,” Weeks said.
Steve Lockhart also brought in a single tire that had once been a spare.
“I think it’s a great idea,” he said of the program.
Benjamin McKinney brought in a trailer load of about 12 tires. He works for the owner of rental properties and had picked up the tires discarded at various property locations. Dietsch said that was OK because the tires came from residences.
Ordinarily, people would have to take tires to the landfill, where the drop-off cost is $180 per ton. But people can bring in just one or two tires. Their vehicle is weighed when they come in and weighed again when they leave. The cost usually ends up being $3 to $4 dollars per tire.
Organizers of the program were hoping it would encourage people to recycle tires to avoid the disposal cost.
Collecting old tires is not just a beautification issue, Dietsch said, but it relates to health as well. Discarded tires collect rainwater and are a common breeding ground for mosquitoes. He has had calls from people who were interested in doing a neighborhood cleanup of tires.
“I hope we will get our neighborhoods cleaned up and get rid of some tires that are lying in the ditch and behind people’s houses,” Dietsch said.
Andrew Ester, a Warner Robins code enforcement officer, said discarded tires are a big problem in the city. He is currently working on one case where about 1,000 tires were illegally dumped on a property. But most often, he said, its just a few tires that they find any one location.
The tire amnesty will continue from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The locations are the Houston County Courthouse Annex at 200 Carl Vinson Parkway, the county landfill at 2080 Ga. 247, and the county Purchasing Department at 2020 Kings Chapel Road.
The amnesty event is being funded by a state grant, which will reimburse the county its cost of having the tires recycled. The county pays $125 per ton to a recycler to take tires. Tire dealers are required by law to pay a recycler directly to take tires, and a per tire disposal fee is charged to customers, even if they decide to keep the tires.
Jones said they intend to apply for the grant again next year and hopefully make it an annual event.