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More than 22,000 used tires roll in from recycling program

Bell County is a cleaner place following the 2020 Kentucky Waste Tire Management Program.

The event comes to the county every three years on a rotational basis, and helps people dispose of tires. This year’s event saw the Bell County Solid Waste and Recycling Center collect 22,083 tires, many of which might have ended up in roadside dumps, creeks, and other areas where they could cause damage to the environment.

Starting Thursday morning, Bell County residents were permitted to bring old tires to the recycling center on 15th Street in Middlesboro. There were some restrictions, including the types of tires accepted. No tires with a bead of more than 1 3/4 inches would be accepted, and solid tires, foam-filled tires, and any tires from construction-type equipment were not allowed, according to Doug Hoskins with the recycling center.

“This is a once every three-year program. I wish it was done annually, but that’s the way the state has it scheduled,” he said. “It’s a state-sponsored activity, and it’s free to everyone except tire dealers, who have been paid a disposal fee for tires they exchange. It’s for John Doe Citizen who has three or four tires left over in his yard, or a renter who moved out and left them behind for his landlord,” he said.

The event was originally scheduled to take place earlier this year, but due to COVID-19, was pushed back. Hoskins said tires accepted included semi-truck tires, agricultural tires, and passenger car tires.

William Collins is a program coordinator with the recycling section of the Kentucky Cabinet for Energy and Environment. He was on the scene in Bell County throughout the event, which started Thursday morning and wrapped up Saturday afternoon. Collins said his duty at the collection site was to ensure restrictions were followed, including social distancing, wearing of masks, and citizens who brought tires to the site staying in their vehicles.

Collins said the state had 21 tire collection events scheduled through Oct. 3, which would make up for the ones cancelled in the spring due to COVID-19, including the Bell County collection. The ones that normally take place in the fall will start Oct. 10 and run through December, with a total of 42 events being hosted.

Jackie Hoskins, secretary for the Bell County Solid Waste and Recycling Center, said the event was a huge success.

“I thought we had a wonderful event and a great turnout,” she said. “I was super pleased. That’s the most tires I’m aware that we’ve ever got.”

Doug Hoskins said the event was definitely a community effort.

“We’re spearheading it, but it’s a group effort,” Hoskins said. He explained that the program utilizes not only the staff of the recycling center, but also inmate labor from the Bell County Detention Center, along with assistance from Bell County Fiscal Court and road superintendent Wade Hoskins, Middlesboro Mayor Rick Nelson and the city’s street department and more. Green Hills Cemetery also donated a tent for workers to sit under during the event.

The Waste Tire Collection Program, established in 1998, is part of the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s ongoing effort to rid Kentucky’s landscape of waste tires.

During a waste tire collection event, individuals can drop off their unwanted tires at a specific location within their county at no cost. The EEC contracts for the removal and delivery of the recovered tires to “beneficial end use” markets where they are recycled to become products such as tire-derived fuel or crumb rubber. The program is supported by the Waste Tire Trust Fund, which is funded when tire retailers collect a $2 fee on all new replacement motor vehicle tires sold. Retailers may retain five cents to offset administrative costs, but the balance is required to go in the Waste Tire Trust Fund, which is dedicated to managing scrap tires and developing sustainable markets for recycled tire products. To date, tire amnesty is responsible for the proper disposal of more than 19 million waste tires.

For more information on recycling in Bell County, contact the center at 606-337-7035.