WESLACO — The Valley’s “Road to Recycling” tire collection effort is winning recognition statewide for its success in making sure the rubber isn’t abandoned beside the road.
Last year the tire recycling effort removed 17,000 tires from the Valley in a single day’s collection. In 2017, 42,000 tires were collected over three separate days.
Instead of being thrown out along roadway ditches, the tires were dropped off for recycling. Last year many of these tires were introduced to the City of Brownsville’s “The Terminator,” a machine which grinds them into tiny pieces.
They still go into local landfills, but the tire chunks are a lot more environmentally friendly, officials say.
“I do want to point out the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality even wrote an article that they just shared that we were one of the major spotlights,” Ron Garza, executive director of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, told board members.
“All of the photos that were used, instead of using file photos, they used photos that we actually submitted,” he added. “We also made it as a marquee feature in the statewide publication that was used during the legislative session.”
This year’s event will be held Saturday, April 27.
Officials say even a few abandoned tires in ditches can disrupt drainage systems, and pointed to local flooding problems they say were worsened by abandoned tires following heavy rains in June.
After filling with water, the tires also can serve as nurseries for disease-carrying mosquitoes.
“We’re making an impact with this project and … tires are a huge issue,” Garza told the board at a meeting recently. “We’ll continue to advocate for more funds.”
During fiscal years 2016 and 2017, the TCEQ’s Regional Solid Waste Grants Program, through partnerships with the 24 regional Councils of Government, spent $357,895 on collecting, disposing, and recycling of tires.
“Of the scrap or used tires collected, the main end-uses include tire-derived fuel sources, crumb rubber production, land reclamation projects, other beneficial uses, and other types of recycling,” TCEQ said in a statement.