Bipartisan Tennessee Bill Would Bring Recycling To All Households And Paid For By Private Business

Every Tennessee household could soon have access to recycling, thanks to a bipartisan bill. Under this bill, the cost of the recycling program would be covered by private companies. It is a significant step towards promoting sustainable practices and reducing waste in the state.

Lawmakers will be discussing a bill on Wednesday that has the potential to introduce recycling to every household in Tennessee. This initiative, which would cost a significant $220 million, will be entirely funded by private-sector companies. These companies are responsible for the packaging that currently ends up in the state’s overflowing landfills.

Tennessee, at present, holds the 48th position among all states in terms of recycling practices, resulting in a significant amount of packaging waste, approximately 900,000 pounds, being disposed of in landfills annually. This amounts to roughly 690 pounds of waste per household, as reported by the nonprofit organization, Recycling Partnership.

The Tennessee Waste Reduction and Recycling Act is a proposed legislation that aims to make recycling a requirement for companies with gross revenues of $1 million or more, regardless of their location. Under this act, companies that actively reduce packaging will receive lower fees as an incentive to promote sustainable practices.

“Tennessee landfills are currently filled to capacity, which is a pressing issue that needs immediate attention. It is crucial to find a sustainable funding solution for this problem, as relying solely on government funding may not be feasible.”

“Sen. Heidi Campbell, a Democrat from Nashville, stated…”

According to Senator Heidi Campbell, a Nashville Democrat who is sponsoring the bill, international brands are already obligated to participate in similar programs in various countries across Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. Representative Torrey Harris, a Democrat from Memphis, is also a co-sponsor of the bill.

According to Campbell, the situation with Tennessee landfills is dire as they are currently at full capacity. This presents an urgent problem that needs immediate attention. In order to address this issue, Campbell suggests implementing a sustainable funding mechanism as the government is unlikely to provide funding for this matter. This solution would be a significant victory in tackling the landfill problem.

Major brands such as Nestle USA, Danone North America, Unilever United States, and Mars Inc. have expressed their support.

In a letter dated February 28, the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, a recycling advocacy organization, expressed their belief that the passage of this bill would bring us one step closer to a waste and recycling future. They emphasized that this would enable companies like theirs to establish and achieve ambitious packaging goals.

The bill mandates that both recycling material producers, including product manufacturers, and companies like Amazon, responsible for delivering products to consumers, establish an independent and non-profit organization known as the “Producer Responsibility Organization” (PRO). The PRO will be tasked with developing Tennessee’s recycling plan.

According to Campbell, the PRO would establish dues for companies operating in Tennessee, which would then be utilized to finance household recycling pick-ups and the establishment of new recycling facilities. This initiative is expected to create numerous job opportunities for the residents of Tennessee.

The costs would not be borne by local governments and Tennessee taxpayers.

Citizen and state interests would be overseen by a separate 13-member advisory board, in addition to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

By July 1, 2028, packaging that contains harmful chemicals, including forever chemicals that do not break down and pose risks to human and animal life, as well as other chemicals of high concern, would be prohibited under the proposed law. Those who violate this regulation would face escalating fines.

Two Republican senators, Sen. Frank Niceley from Strawberry Plains and Sen. Richard Briggs of Knoxville, have shown their support for the bill by becoming cosponsors.

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