There’s a multi county organization - GNRC or the Greater Nashville Regional Council - that has come up with a Solid Waste Master Plan (SWMP).
The committee that developed it is made up of solid waste professionals from all over Middle Tennessee and co- chaired by our own Mac Nolan (Rutherford County Solid Waste) and Joey Smith (Murfreesboro Solid Waste). Yet it appears NONE of the County Commissioners have read the plan.
There are some really useful pieces of information in there and most importantly, recommendations for how to proceed with solving our regional solid waste problems. The SWMP is available for reading online at https://gnrc.org/181/PublicationsandDocuments
One useful tool is this graphic of how to deal with solid waste. The commission is focused on the lower part of this when the real need for focus is on the "Reduce and Reuse" parts at the top.
Now our state legislature has essentially tied local government’s hands about these issues with the passage of a law preventing local governments from enacting any limits or penalties for single use plastics and styrofoam.
So, no ban on plastic bags or straws or takeout containers until the state does it. Thank the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who got these laws passed in several states at the request of the plastics manufacturing industry lobbyists. But there are still things our local government could do to help reduce waste. And they can be done for minimal investment compared to the cost of disposal.
Our county could develop a Green Business program, have a list of activities and tasks a business could do to earn the designation as a green business, and they could use that as a marketing tool.
Kroger has already said they would do away with plastic bags in the near future. Other places could do the same. Address the food waste issue at restaurants, hospitals, schools, nursing homes etc. that could both address food waste and help people who need it. Could they recruit businesses to come here that address the "Reuse" part of the plan?
There is already an electronics reuse/recycle/recovery company in La Vergne that employs several hundred folks. Perhaps consult with folks at MTSU who might be encouraged to work on it.
Let's see if our elected officials can use some creativity to deal with the handcuffs the state has put on them.
Individuals can help in this effort.
Let your commissioner know what you want, read the plan for yourself - its only 100 or so pages.
Get and carry your own shopping bags, buy products with less packaging and let the company know you appreciate it or let others know you didn’t buy their product because of the packaging.
Refuse those straws and carry your own to go box for leftovers at a restaurant.
Let the restaurant know you’d prefer containers that will deteriorate instead of lasting for centuries in the landfill.
These things may seem small, but if thousands of people do them, they aren’t small anymore.