The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has given a grant of $78,723 for the Hands-On Science Center of Tullahoma from the state’s Tire Environmental Act Program.
The Hands-On Science Center will provide matching funds of $21,272 to use over 194,000 pounds of tires to create an educational and interactive outdoor museum exhibit, aMAZE-ing Science, and an additional parking area. The center’s programming and monthly free public events have grown, requiring overflow parking. The center wants to use crumb rubber for the parking area.
The two projects are made almost exclusively from recycled rubber products and will divert 9,000 tires. The center also wants to create a week of Science Dailies posts and a dedicated virtual classroom focusing on rubber recycling.
“This is an excellent opportunity for the state to support this nonprofit organization for its environmentally responsible actions,” said TDEC Commissioner David Salyers. “These grants serve as a catalyst for such activity, and we are glad the state could assist in this way.”
“I’m pleased this grant has been awarded for an exciting new exhibit that will both educate visitors on the importance of rubber recycling and actively contribute to the effort,” said Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma. “I greatly look forward to experiencing this new addition to the science center when it’s complete.”
“The Hands-On Science Center is a wonderful educational asset to our community,” said Rep. Rush Bricken, R-Tullahoma. “This exciting new outdoor exhibit and parking area will highlight the benefits of recycling along with the importance of protecting our environment. I congratulate the Hands-On Science Center for being awarded this funding and look forward to the positive impact it will have on visitors.”
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 the eligible entities, including: local governments, non-profit organizations, higher education institutions, K-12 schools, and for-profit entities.
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 $4.5 million, and approximately 3.6 million tires or nearly 42,476 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 landfill for a higher and better use.