Preston recycler turns tires to mulch, makes own equipment

TUNNELTON, W.Va.— “Use everything” is Charlie Pase’s motto.

Not only does he recycle used tires and other trash, but he also designs and makes or modifies many of the machines his workers use.

Pase and his wife, Sue, own Preston Tire & Recycling on W.Va. 26 near Tunnelton, where six days a week people can bring used tires and get rid of them for $1.36 apiece. The fee is set by the state Public Service Commission.

The Pases stand out among recyclers in the state, and that earned them a state Department of Environmental Protection Cabinet Secretary Award in 2012.

“Preston Tire and Recycling is the only company that we are aware of that is currently shredding tires for reuse and not putting them into a monofil,” said Jake Glance, WVDEP public information officer.

A monofil is a landfill, sometimes called a cell, that holds only tires. Each layer is 8 feet thick, and there are three layers with 2 feet of dirt between each. Pase’s design is different. He puts filter fabric between the layers to prevent contamination — or he would if he had a layer finished. Pase has had his monofil since he opened 19 years ago, but he has yet to complete the first layer. Most of his shredded tires go to other uses.

Pase said he has sold rubber mulch to schools and daycare centers that put it around their playground equipment. If children fall on rubber mulch, splinters and debris don’t lodge in their skin. Pase’s workers strip metal out of the old tires before grinding them. The metal is sold as scrap to be recycled. Homeowners and businesses buy the mulch for landscaping; builders can use it instead of gravel for septic and French drains and around foundations. Oil and gas companies use it in building well sites.

Not all tires get chopped up. The better ones Pase sends to a company that gives them a second life by recapping them with new tread.

Preston County Litter Control Officer Jay Sowers said Pase performs a public service, providing a convenient way to get rid of used tires instead of dumping them in a stream or over a hill, where a litter pickup crew has to winch them up.

Pase’s employees also collect tires from tire shops and during Tire Amnesty Days, events where the WVDEP waives the fee for state residents turning in car and light truck tires. He tries to shred two tons of tires per day.

The business recycles more than tires and the metal removed from them. Pase also gives new life to the agricultural plastic that wraps hay bales.

He built a machine called a densifier to turn the plastic coverings into crumbs. A machine he bought called an extruder melts the crumbs and forces the plastic into a molded shape. Pase made the round and square barrels he puts on the machine to make 4-inch fence posts. Right now, he is just experimenting, but he does have some farmers testing what he calls “lifetime” posts.

Pase said the system of conveyors and choppers with which he makes mulch is the only one of its kind. “I designed the thing and built it.”

Equipment that does the same things can be purchased, but when Pase started, he found it was expensive and he thought he could do better. Plus, he had scrap metal parts already at his business.

“I encourage recycling,” Pase said. “If it’s man-made, it can be recycled.”

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