Deadline for Nov. issue is Oct. 23
Tennessee CLEAN is a statewide anti-litter initiative created by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF) —an independent nonprofit organization. And TWF has the numbers on the litter problem and how it measurably and negatively impacts the state’s economy, agriculture, and nature. Tennessee taxpayers pay $15 million each year to pick up litter. There are an estimated 100 million pieces of litter along Tennessee’s roadways. There are 78,700 tons of plastic bags thrown out in Tennessee each year. There are 32 million pieces of microplastics litter that the Tennessee River dumps into the Ohio River every second. 32 million pieces every second!
Lindsay Gardner, conservation policy manager for Tennessee CLEAN said, “As our lifestyles have become increasingly disposable, we’re experiencing an increase in litter and the damages it causes. Despite good anti-litter work across the state, current efforts just can’t keep up. This is felt more acutely in rural areas where local roads tend to have higher rates of litter. But, of course, it doesn't stay there. Litter blows into fields where it can damage equipment and make its way into products, such as hay. A single plastic bag in a hay bale can spell huge expense, and even heartbreak, for horse owners when it causes colic.
“Litter in Tennessee costs the agriculture community an estimated $60 million a year. Creating a comprehensive, statewide solution that recovers more material in the first place and also provides more resources for cleanup is critical if we are going to address this eyesore with real costs.”
Moving away from a “throwaway” economy to a more “circular” economy can improve business while it improves the environment. “There is value in the litter stream,” said Tennessee Wildlife Federation CEO Michael Butler, as he mentioned numerous materials that can be reused, recycled, and repurposed.
One material for which there is increasing demand is glass. Laura Hennemann, vice president of marketing and communications for Strategic Materials, said that glass can be repurposed for glass container manufacturing, fiberglass insulation, highway bed materials, and other items. Using recycled glass reduces the need for mined materials like sand. In fact, Hennemann said that glass “is 100% recyclable forever.”
Patagonia, one of the members of Tennessee CLEAN, uses recycled plastic in its manufacturing processes, helping keep some of the 32million pieces of microplastics out of our water.
The Tennessee CLEAN Act House bill (HB0174) was filed for introduction January 13, 2021, sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faison and Rep. John Ray Clemmons. On 2/1/2021 it was assigned to the Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee. The Senate bill (SB0152) was filed for introduction January 14, 2021, sponsored by Sen. Richard Briggs. On 3/17/2021 it was assigned to the General Subcommittee of the Senate Government Operations Committee. And that’s as far as it has gone. Read the text and progress of the bill at: https://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/Default.aspx?BillNumber=HB0174
Goals for the Tennessee CLEAN Act are: (1) create a program to recover at least 85% of single-use containers sold in Tennessee; (2) a program to address single-use plastic and paper bags; (3) a comprehensive litter control program as a permanent solution to the litter problem.
Find out more about the initiative to Clean Up! Tennessee at: https://tennesseecleanact.org/
There are additional articles to give you facts about waste and ideas about how to control it.
“The Single Use Plastic Problem,” posted on NPR July 13, 2021: https://www.npr.org/2021/07/12/1015296355/zero-waste-single-use-plastic-trash-recycle
“Your Trash is Emitting Methane in the Landfill,” posted on NPR July 13, 2021:
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