Every year, Saskatchewan motorists generate more than one million scrap tires, which until recently joined general refuse at landfill sites across the province.
“It took up a lot of space and they’re very difficult to bury,” city sanitation manager Rob Burns said. “They have a tendency to surface … to pump up to the surface.”
Put into motion more than a decade ago, the Saskatchewan Scrap Tire Corporation has been collecting as many scrap tires as possible, putting them into the recycling stream instead of landfills.
Until Sept. 30, this effort translates into free scrap tire drop-off at the Prince Albert landfill site.
An additional 31 municipalities in the province’s northeast are also being targeted as part of the corporation’s Black Gold Rush scrap tire cleanup program, which focuses on different areas of the province every year, the corporation’s director of special projects Jackie Kuntz explained.
Each municipality has their own process for dealing with scrap tires, and should be contacted for more information regarding the specifics of what residents should do, she said.
Prince Albert has participated in the corporation’s efforts since the start, beginning with the program’s first phase, which saw scrap tires cleaned out of the landfill site in December, 2000.
“Before our program would clean the landfills, the (municipalities) had to pass a bylaw indicating that after the landfill cleanup they would no longer accept scrap tires in the landfill,” Kuntz said, adding that Prince Albert continues to accept scrap tires into an area separate from its main landfill site, where they are collected for later recycling.
“While they committed to not accept tires in the landfill, they changed their program such that they would charge a tipping fee for the scrap tire, and then they would contract one of our collectors to go and pick up those tires,” she explained. “Prince Albert would be charged the equivalent of those tipping fees.”
Although no tipping fees are being charged on tires from now through to Sept. 30, Burns notes that the city isn’t losing money by not charging a fee, with the Black Gold Rush initiative picking up the tires free of charge.
Typically, the tipping fee helps the city break even when it comes to the pickup fee, he said.
In addition to cutting back on the amount of garbage filling landfills, the scrap tire pickup effort mitigates additional environmental risks, Kuntz said.
“Excessive scrap tire stockpiles can become a fire hazard, and you know how toxic the tires are if they catch fire. They become home to rodents, also -- havens for mosquitos if water pools in the tires, as well,” she said.
“As long as we’re getting those tires into the recycle stream, we mitigate the risks of them being stored in a landfill.”
Tires collected by the Saskatchewan Scrap Tire Corporation go to one of two scrap tire processors in the province -- Shercom Industries in Saskatoon and Assiniboia Rubber Recycling in Assiniboia.
“The processors take the rubber from the scrap tire and convert it into other marketable products,” Kuntz said. “There is quite a variety of marketable products.”
Products include garden mulch in place of wood chips, rubber paving and various other things. Recycled rubber is underneath the turf at the Roughriders’ Taylor Field.
An alternative scrap tire drop-off site to the Prince Albert landfill site is the Red River Riding and Roping Arena property.
After seeing their arena collapse earlier this year, the organization is now raising money to build a new one.
They’ve recently partnered with the Saskatchewan Scrap Tire Corporation, which will pay them for whatever tires are dropped off on their property.
Club manager Michelle Hofstra encourages those interested in dropping off scrap tires to call her at 763-3434 before doing so.