Carbon Rivers' unloading blade.
Carbon Rivers develops advanced materials and sustainable energy technologies to reduce industrial waste in landfills. — Carbon Rivers

With so much waste produced around the globe, some companies are finding creative ways to solve this problem — and are making an impact on their community while doing it.

Knoxville, Tennessee-based Carbon Rivers is one of those companies. According to Chief Strategy Officer David Morgan, Carbon Rivers is on a mission to divert waste sent to landfills by providing innovative and sustainable solutions for the energy, automotive, safety, and security industries.

“Each of our facilities will take in over 50,000 metric tons per year of intake waste,” Morgan told CO—. “[Our work] reduces the need for regional land … dedicated to landfills … which require ground, air, and water permitting. [Those factors] will be entirely off the table with this technology.”

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Leaving a lasting positive impact on the environment

Carbon Rivers was named the 2022 Small Business of the Year at The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Dream Big Awards, thanks in part to its sustainability efforts. The company works with both large and small companies, as well as government agencies, to bring environmental, social, and governance (ESG) technologies to market.

Through its efforts, it has reduced the waste intake in its local communities by considering and finding solutions for material responsibility.

“If we can get many life cycles and multiple circular economies out of an end-of-life glass fiber composite material, that is a very rewarding and advantageous thing for communities and the environment,” Morgan said.

Material responsibility could be a really major paradigm shift in how materials of all sorts would be used in different companies, small and large. That's been the thing we've been focused on lately — what the future impact might be for our company.

David Morgan, Chief Strategy Officer, Carbon Rivers

Looking to the future, Morgan sees the impact his company can continue to have on the local community and environment. Given that there will always be waste, he sees the potential for this market to grow and thrive over time, especially as more companies seek ways to upcycle their unused materials safely and responsibly, rather than sending them off to the landfill.

“Material responsibility could be a really major paradigm shift in how materials of all sorts would be used in different companies, small and large,” Morgan said. “That's been the thing we've been focused on lately — what the future impact might be for our company.”

Welcoming the community to be part of the solution

With over 200 personnel employed at each plant — including heavy equipment operators, process engineers, research scientists, and marketing and business development individuals — Carbon Rivers has been a major job provider to local communities. The company has striven to provide positive opportunities to residents and local small businesses while continuing to work toward a more sustainable future.

“Sometimes there's synergy where we work with another small business and they have something that would be mutually beneficial, or it might simply be that we help them and whatever they're trying to achieve in the area of environmental responsibility and circular [economies],” Morgan said.

In addition to Carbon Rivers’ job creation and community support, the company plans to take its efforts a step further by offering internship opportunities to students who are interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The company recently opened its doors to numerous under-resourced and Montessori schools to help students get a first-hand look at what the company does to inspire local youths.

“[Students] have the opportunity ... [to] brainstorm with us about what other technologies would be useful in this type of space,” Morgan said. “They see it's not [only] something for them that's … observational, but they can participate, as well, and be a part of thinking through ideas … for next-generation technology.

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Published January 18, 2023