TDEC Announces Tire Program Grant for University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Thursday, November 16, 2023 | 02:09pm

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) today announced a grant of $350,197 for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (UTK) from the state’s Tire Environmental Act Program.

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.

“We are seeing great advances in repurposing tires for environmental benefits, and this grant for the University of Tennessee at Knoxville is a great example,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner Greg Young. ”Programs like this not only help clean up sites of used tires, they involve innovative new uses for them. We congratulate UT-Knoxville on this project.”

UTK is partnering with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to install a series of pavement test sections using the technologies developed from this project. Benefits of including rubber in asphalt pavement mixes include improved skid resistance, cracking resistance, and noise reduction.

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. 

More information on the Tire Environmental Act Program can be found at this link.