Youngstown Seeks Grant to Help Curb Tire Waste

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city plans to apply for a new grant program introduced by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to help combat blight caused by scrap tire dumping.

“We’re going to the source,” said Anne M. Vogel, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. “We’re going to try to figure out where the data gap is. Who’s generating these? Why are they getting dumped? Where are they getting dumped?”

Vogel joined city officials Thursday at a press event at a city-owned vacant lot on Albert Street that is used as a pickup site for scrap tires to announce the new statewide grant initiative. 

The program is funded through the Ohio EPA’s Scrap Tire Management Fund, which is generated from a fee wholesalers pay for new tires.

Under the program, communities could apply for grants as much as $20,000. The money would be used for outreach and education efforts by health departments and solid waste management districts to local businesses that generate scrap tire waste. 

“We really want this money to go into the communities that need it most,” she said.

Vogel said scrap tires pose public health concerns and are eyesores that produce blight in neighborhoods and communities.

Between 5,000 and 8,000 businesses across the state generate scrap tires, Vogel said. “Maybe we can get to the source about recycling instead of dumping them,” she noted.

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said this presents a great opportunity to augment the city’s already strong partnership with the Ohio EPA. “I always say that tires are the bane of my existence,” he said, referring to the flood of phone calls he receives related to tire waste.

“Even for our local business owners – many of them want to do the right thing,” he said.

Since the beginning of the year, the city has established a partnership with the Ohio EPA that enables an EPA-contracted recycler to retrieve scrap tires collected by the Youngstown City Health District at no cost to the city.

Bob Burke, litter recycling coordinator for Green Youngstown, a division of the city’s health department, said the program has saved the city more than $71,000 so far this year.

“We get 300 to 400 tires. We email the EPA, and they come down and pick them up for free for us,” he said.

Since Feb. 22, the EPA has collected 25,376 tons of scrap tires generated in Youngstown, he said. The EPA’s contractor, Liberty Tire, based in Columbus, has made 28 separate trips to the city.

On Thursday, the Albert Street site was stacked with approximately 400 tires that were being loaded into a truck bound for a recycling center near Columbus.

“These are all tires that are found on the streets in Youngstown,” Burke said. “Dumped anywhere.”

Previously, the city would have to bear the costs of recycling the scrap tires, Burke said.  “Before, it would cost us $3.50 per tire to take them somewhere else,” he said. In some years, it had cost the city approximately $100,000, he said.

The new grant program is intended to alert businesses that generate scrap tires that this partnership with the EPA exists and that it benefits the entire community, Burke said.

“I will go out to the tire shops, give them the literature on educating them to get rid of their tires for free if they’re not disposed of properly,” he said. 

“Really, that’s where it all comes down to – our tire shops,” Burke said.

Pictured at top: Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, left, and Anne M. Vogel, director of the Ohio EPA.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.