Tennessee announces over $2.25 million in grants for rubber recycling efforts

Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced grants totaling over $2.25 million for rubber recycling efforts in the state of Tennessee from the states’ Tire Environmental Act Program.

A grant of $350,197 was issued for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (UTK). UTK will provide matching funds of $512,793 and use the grant toward a research and development project that will develop multiple sustainable technologies for the application of tire rubber in road construction. The project costs $862,990 and has the potential to create a vast market for waste tires unrivaled in size by any other use of scrap rubber.

A grant of $987,827.50 was issued for Memphis Tire Recyclers LLC . Memphis Tire Recyclers will provide matching funds of $987,827.50 to expand its existing operations and create both a porous pavement installation operation as well as an Illegal Tire Dumping Mitigation Department. Memphis Tire Recyclers is applying funds toward purchasing and installing equipment and making facility upgrades.

The project will cost an estimated $1,975,655 and allow Memphis Tire Recyclers LLC to identify and collect approximately 150,000 illegally dumped scrap tires annually and process them for beneficial reuse in porous pavement projects. The company is committed to eradicating the aesthetic and health issues that are created by illegal dump sites throughout West Tennessee. The project would meet part of that need.

A grant of $500,000 was issued for the Nashville facility of Liberty Tire Recycling, LLC. LTR will provide matching funds of $1,143,357 and use the grant toward purchasing equipment to process approximately 10,000 tons of scrap tires annually. The project costs $1,643,357 and will help divert approximately 1 million scrap tires each year from landfills.

A grant of $160,000 was issued for Blount Count. Blount County will provide matching funds of $40,000 and use the grant toward a pilot road construction project that utilizes an innovative asphalt mix technology in the production of rubber modified asphalt. The project costs $200,000 and has the potential improve the long-term performance of county roads and reduce road maintenance costs.

A grant of $364,426 was issued for Lawrence County. Lawrence County will provide matching funds of $91,106 and use the grant to purchase equipment to improve the county’s management of scrap tires. The project costs $455,532 and will support the cleanup of illegal tire dump sites across the county and reduce the health risks they create for citizens.

The purpose of the Tire Environmental Act Program is to select and fund projects that best result in beneficial uses for waste tires. Projects must qualify for one of three categories: tire processing/recycling, tire-derived material use, or research and development. The program provides grant funding to eligible entities including: local governments, non-profit organizations, higher education institutions, K-12 schools, and for-profit businesses.

Tennessee established the Tire Environmental Fund in 2015. Upon the first retail sale of a new motor vehicle to be titled and registered in Tennessee, a flat fee based on the number of a vehicle’s wheels is assessed. The fee goes into the fund, which is used for projects creating or supporting beneficial end uses for waste tires.

Since 2015, grantees have been awarded almost $6.8 million, and approximately 5.5 million tires or nearly 58,000 tons of scrap tires have been diverted from landfills. The tires are repurposed for use in rubberized asphalt, tire-derived aggregate, tire-derived fuel, granulated rubber porous flexible pavement, and other beneficial end uses that result in tires being diverted from landfills for a higher and better use.