The Tennessee Legislature is pushing forward a bill aimed at reducing packaging waste and increasing recycling efforts in the state. Currently, Tennessee ranks 47th among states for recycling, with only 7% of common containers and packaging being recycled. Senate Bill 573 would require a reduction in unnecessary packaging and the recovery of more valuable materials in the recycling process. It would also develop markets for recycled materials and support the recycling industry.
Dan Firth, the chairman of the Solid Waste and Mining Committee for the Sierra Club’s Tennessee chapter, says the bill’s focus on reducing waste and reclaiming materials would have a positive impact on the state’s environment. “This bill is focused on reducing the amount of packaging waste that is going into landfills, being incinerated and otherwise lost,” he said. “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 also establish an advisory board to assess the state’s recycling infrastructure and services, and would provide financial stability to local recycling systems. This would allow investment in recycling infrastructure and create local jobs. Firth added that it could also enhance Tennessee’s business prospects by ensuring a domestic supply of raw materials for new products.
Firth emphasized the bill’s potential to increase the number of jobs in the state, and reimburse towns for some of the related costs of their recycling programs. “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,” he said. “There’ll be more jobs in terms of using those materials that are collected, and making new products.”
The bill is sponsored by State Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Oak Hill, and is expected to bring about significant improvements to the state’s recycling efforts.