Pins is cleaning up Iowa
Mel Pins says he’s cleared away acres of tires during his tenure as an environmental specialist for the Energy and Waste Management Bureau of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
He coordinates the state’s waste-tire management program, a $2 million-per-year-funded project that reduced mosquito populations by removing their favorite breeding grounds.
“This program has gotten rid of 9 million waste tires from more than 70 stockpiles across the state,” Pins said. “We’ve contracted with tire recyclers to remove the tires and turn them into something usable. In 1997, there were no crumb rubber producers in Iowa. Now one company in Des Moines makes 30 million pounds of crumb rubber per year and uses all the waste tires we generate.”
Crumb rubber is used in outdoor running tracks and to make outdoor surfaces, such as playgrounds, softer and safer. It can also be used as a fuel supplement for some power plants. A large part of Pins’ job is further developing and expanding awareness of and markets for recycled tires in Iowa.
Pins grew up in rural Warren County and got his undergraduate degree in community and regional planning from Iowa State University in 1991. He then went to work for Nesco Inc. in Des Moines as a consultant, performing environmental audits and petroleum contamination investigations. He was there until 1996 when he joined the DNR. Pins has been with the department for almost eight years.
“It’s a dynamic bureau that works directly with Iowa citizens and businesses to help them get involved in recycling and waste reduction,” Pins said. “We work with city and local governments to solve problems and get results. My favorite part is working with individual Iowans across the state, giving them good information and direction.”
Pins, 34, keeps busy when he’s not at work. He is president of the Somerset Neighborhood Association, and is committed to raising awareness of that South Side neighborhood. His wife, Molly, keeps him involved in events like Taste of Des Moines and the Great Iowa Tractor Ride. He is also a World War II re-enactor. He attends veterans’ reunions and commemorative events wearing vintage uniforms. For more information, visit his Web site at http://pages.prodigy.net/melpins/index.html.