Gov. Phil Bredesen and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke announced today that the state will provide grants totaling more than $4.2 million to assist communities across Tennessee with processing waste tires for beneficial reuse in the coming year.
Rutherford County was awarded a $149,306 grant, which is to help with the disposal of more than 2,000 tons of used tires during the 2008 fiscal year.
"The efforts of the state's local partners are key to the success of this program to divert waste tires from landfills for the benefit of the environment," Bredesen said. "I'm pleased the Solid Waste Management Act continues to allow us to provide support to local communities for this very important program."
The Tennessee General Assembly authorized waste tire grants in the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991.
The grants assist counties with the processing and transportation of tires to beneficial end use facilities. Counties are reimbursed $70 per ton of tires and are required to provide one waste tire collection site. Counties may charge an additional fee if the grant is not adequate to cover costs.
The grants are supported from the Waste Tire Fund, which receives revenue from a state surcharge on the purchase of new tires. The Waste Tire Fund is administered by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and 90 cents from every dollar collected is used for solid waste grants and services.
Tennessee recycles an estimated 60,000 tons of tires per year, diverting waste tires from landfills and sending them to beneficial end use. Beneficial end use methods include utilizing crumb rubber in civil engineering projects, asphalt paving, and molded rubber products, but the majority of Tennessee's waste tires are used as tire derived fuel.
The fuel helps to conserve fossil fuels and provides a waste-to-energy disposal method.
The units of energy produced by tire derived fuel are comparable to fuels such as coal. According to a study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in a well-designed and maintained combustion device, it emits fewer pollutants than conventional sources of energy.
In Tennessee, Bowater Company, Cemex Cement, Gerdau Ameristeel and TVA Allen Steam Plant are among those generating energy and processing waste by using the derived fuel.
"Tennessee's tire recycling program provides an environmentally sound disposal method, but the most important step in waste management remains waste reduction," Fyke said.
Purchasing longer life tires, rotating and balancing tires every 6,000 miles, and checking air pressure monthly are excellent ways to reduce the number of scrap tires and save money.