TiEnergy Puts Brakes on Carbon Emissions With Innovative Railroad Tie Recycling

Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos

Chicago-Based Railroad Tie Recycler Cuts Over 1.6 Million Pounds of Carbon Emissions

TiEnergy LLC, a family-owned railroad tie recycling company based in Chicago, announced this week that its sustainable railroad tie disposal methods led to a reduction of over 1.6 million pounds of carbon emissions in 2023.

The announcement comes as railroads across the country are looking for ways to shrink their environmental footprint. Over 22 million railroad ties in the United States are replaced each year due to wear and tear, leaving millions more deteriorating in rail yards or disposal sites. By finding ways to repurpose these ties instead of sending them to landfills, TiEnergy has positioned itself at the forefront of the industry’s push towards sustainability.

“TiEnergy was founded twenty years ago to solve the challenge of railroad tie disposal,” said Steve Berglund, CEO and founder of the company, in a statement. “Today our operations help reduce the carbon footprint of railroad organizations and push the industry to a more sustainable future.”

He added, “On the heels of the announcement to invest in the future of Union Station (right here in Chicago) and also across the country with high-speed rail, we’re proud to end the year with such a significant and measurable contribution to a cleaner and greener future for United States’ railroads.”

The company, which runs recycling facilities in several states, is equipped to repurpose up to 5,000 ties per day using a patented process. TiEnergy first extracts metal hardware from used ties through a technology called the Tie Plate Picker. It then grinds the ties into an aggregate material called TIEROC, made from recycled ties and post-consumer wood waste.

TIEROC serves as a substitute for traditional quarry materials like rock and stone. Landfills use it to create permeable and consistent road bases, allowing for faster turnaround times and reduced need for virgin materials. This further cuts down on carbon emissions from waste disposal operations.

In addition to its core railroad tie recycling business, TiEnergy has expanded into recycling other materials like utility poles, crane mats and pallets. The company works with major freight railroads like Union Pacific and BNSF as well as shorter regional railroads and industrial firms.

TiEnergy’s focus on sustainability comes as railroads invest billions into infrastructure projects aimed at modernizing the country’s passenger rail system. Amtrak announced plans last year for a $7.3 billion overhaul of Chicago’s Union Station, while the recently passed federal infrastructure bill contains $66 billion for rail improvements nationwide.

Executives like Berglund hope the industry can leverage these investments to adopt greener practices across the board. With over 1.6 million pounds of carbon emissions avoided in just one year, TiEnergy aims to lead the way.

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