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Waste & Recycling March 01, 2024 12:07:32 AM

Tennessee Recycling Coalition: Working to Protect Tennessee’s Environment and Inspiring Others

Waste Advantage
ScrapMonster Author
The Tennessee Recycling Coalition’s goals and vision are continually set by its board.

Tennessee Recycling Coalition: Working to Protect Tennessee’s Environment and Inspiring Others

SEATTLE (Waste Advantage): A major environmental concern throughout the country continues to be helping people understand the importance of recycling. That is where The Tennessee Recycling Coalition (TRC) steps in—to raise awareness and inspire action in the Volunteer State. The members of this important coalition work hard to promote recycling activities.

The Tennessee Recycling Coalition is a 501(c)3, non-profit partnership of private businesses, federal and state agencies, cities and counties, other non-profits, trade associations, educational institutions, and individuals. Since 1990, TRC has been dedicated to promoting recycling and sustainable materials management practices in the state. TRC works with partner organizations to provide resources, education and outreach, grants, and scholarships for recycling resources. The coalition works together to raise recycling as the standard in Tennessee.

TRC promotes statewide recycling and waste minimization at all levels. Operating under the leadership of a 12-member board, the Coalition serves all 95 Tennessee counties, through various ways of support from region to region.

Promoting the Mission 
Promoting the mission is an ongoing task. Every year, TRC hosts two to four workshop tours across the state at varying locations as a member benefit. For example, in November 2023, TRC partnered with WM Southern Services C&D Landfill and Recycling Facility to host a tour of their new C & D recycling facility. These workshops promote TRC’s mission and are open to recycling businesses, municipalities, universities, and interested citizens. Members often get access to tour recycling facilities and can learn about new technologies and industries that recycle in Tennessee.

For the last 35 years, TRC has also held an annual conference where experts from across Tennessee come together to learn about the latest trends in recycling. The conference is a partnership among the Tennessee Recycling Coalition, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Tennessee Environmental Conference. The Tennessee Sustainability Conference brings environmental professionals, decision-makers, government officials, business and industry leaders, attorneys, consultants, engineers, developers, architects, agribusiness leaders, energy experts, water planning districts, universities, public health officials, and solid waste and recycling experts, from across Tennessee to learn about the latest trends and best practices in environmental sustainability.

This year’s conference will take place from August 21 – 23, 2024, at the Park Vista Hotel in Gatlinburg, TN, and will offer a range of environmental sessions, panel discussions, training classes, workshops, tours, and the exhibitor hall. Top environmental professionals will lead participants in learning sessions that help promote and grow recycling in Tennessee. Attendees will learn about new technologies, regulations, environmental safety, and case studies impacting the way we manage natural resources, as well as explore solutions and best practices for managing environmental sustainability. “We are excited about the future of the Tennessee Sustainability Conference and hope we can bring together environmental leaders from across the state to provide a valuable conference,” TRC Board Past President Lincoln Young said.

Every year during the conference, TRC provides recognition to organizations and individuals who demonstrate excellence in recycling and waste minimization programs and initiatives through the Recycler of the Year (ROY) awards. The ROY awards help showcase and award businesses, industries, organizations, governments, and universities that have exceptional recycling programs that impact waste diversion in the community, and describe the marketing success of recyclables, material diversion, or other unique program attributes to capture recyclable materials.

In 2023, the Nonprofit Recycler of the Year award went to Keep Tennessee River Beautiful. Dollywood partnered with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTNRB), on a massive cigarette litter prevention project, making Dollywood the first theme park in the world to recycle the plastic from every cigarette butt collected in guest-facing receptacles on its property. KTNRB was able to provide Dollywood with 26 art-wrapped cigarette receptacles through a collaboration of grants and sponsorships from Keep America Beautiful, Keep Tennessee Beautiful, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and the American Eagle Foundation. Government Recycler of the Year was Blount County Highway Department, Business Recycler of the Year was Recycle Aerosol, and TN Top Leader was Bill Anderson, Franklin County Solid Waste Director.

Education and Outreach
“The TRC believes that promoting recycling education and programs in the state is one of the most important things we can do to increase recycling. Educating future generations about the importance of the environment helps teach behavioral change towards understanding how to recycle, saving natural resources, and diverting materials from landfills,” says Amber Greene, TRC’s Executive Director. TRC has shared an Education and Outreach toolkit for educators and organizations across the state to help provide free resources for classroom education and learning. The toolkit has valuable information on recycling, composting, litter prevention, activities, and other environmental education activities free to download from the website.

TRC also will offer a youth scholarship in the spring and multiple recycling bin grants in the fall. The Bob Fletcher Memorial Scholarship provides one high school or first-year college student a scholarship to attend college in the environmental field to establish a career. This scholarship honors the late Bob Fletcher who worked for the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation and committed his time to the environmental field helping counties, cities, and businesses with hazardous waste, recycling, and other environmental issues. The Scholarship will be announced in March 2024.

The Recycling Bin Grant offers multiple grants to public and private K-12 schools, municipalities, state parks, governments, non-profits, and organizations in Tennessee to grow and promote recycling for new or existing programs. This grant program supports the mission of TRC across the state and was started in October of 2023 to increase recycling.“As President of the Tennessee Recycling Coalition, I am delighted to announce the recent recipients of our Recycling Bin Grants, Jackson Christian School and Dr. William H. Brewster Elementary Optional STEAM School. These $1,500 grants aim to empower Tennessee schools, nonprofits, and parks to advaning their recycling initiatives and reducing landfill waste. By investing in recycling bins, we not only support practical solutions but also foster a culture of environmental responsibility among our youth. Educating the next generation on the significance of recycling is paramount for building a sustainable future. The Tennessee Recycling Coalition remains committed to promoting waste reduction and recycling statewide, and these grants exemplify our dedication to creating positive environmental change at the grassroots level,” says TRC Board Member, Caleb Powell.

Goals and Vision
The Tennessee Recycling Coalition’s goals and vision are continually set by its board. TRC is funded by sponsorships and continues to seek partners to help achieve its ongoing mission of promoting recycling. TRC would not be able to offer recycling grants, workshops, conference, and a scholarship without the support of the sponsors and members. In 2023, TRC hired Greene to help the organization succeed, grow, and fulfill its mission. She says, “We are proud of our accomplishments, programs, and conference and strongly support recycling in the beautiful State of Tennessee.” 

Courtesy: www.wasteadvantage.com

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