TN bill would revamp recycling process statewide

Published 2:36 pm Friday, February 3, 2023

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A bill in the Tennessee Legislature aims to reduce packaging materials that end up in landfills by improving recycling in the Volunteer State.
One recent survey ranks Tennessee 47th among states for recycling, with only 7% of common containers and packaging recycled.
Senate Bill 573 would require reducing unnecessary packaging and reclaiming more valuable material in the recycling process. It would also support and develop markets for recyclable materials.
Dan Firth chairs the Solid Waste and Mining Committee for the Sierra Club’s Tennessee Chapter and said these improvements would result in cleaner air and water as well.
“This bill is focused on reducing the amount of packaging waste that is going into landfills, being incinerated and otherwise lost,” said Firth. “And to ensure that those valuable materials that the packaging is made of is recovered and goes back into the circular economy.”
The bill would establish an advisory board to conduct a statewide assessment of how recycling infrastructure and services could be improved. It is sponsored by state Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Oak Hill.
Firth emphasized that the bill would provide financial stability to local recycling systems, enabling investment in recycling infrastructure and creating local jobs.
He noted that it could also enhance Tennessee’s business prospects by ensuring a domestic supply of raw materials for new products.
“In order to collect more materials, there will have to be more jobs to do that work — to do the collection, to do the transportation, to do the processing,” said Firth. “There’ll be more jobs in terms of using those materials that are collected, and making new products.”
Firth said the bill would also reimburse towns for some of the related costs of their recycling programs.

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