Act now to stop litter and save Tennessee’s wildlife!
Estimates say there are 100 million pieces of litter on Tennessee’s roads, costing Tennessee taxpayers a minimum of $15 million every year to clean up. (Tennessee Department of Transportation, 2019) The impacts of litter in the state far exceed being eyesores along roadsides and riverbanks. The scope, scale, and intricacies of the litter problem in Tennessee requires a strategy that better addresses the critical unmet needs, as well as opportunities to move the needle on litter reduction, and to maximize economic potential.
The ecological, social, and economic costs of litter are high, far exceeding very real and legitimate concerns over the negative appearance of trash that mars the scenic beauty of our land and waters. The ever increasing excess of plastic bags, bottles, and containers adds to the toxic and damaging mix of products and materials—like glass, aluminum, cigarette butts, bags, wrappers, and more—that make up our garbage. And it’s all found in troubling amounts along roadways and in rivers.
Despite increased awareness and some advancements in waste management and recycling, there’s not enough being done, and reliance on landfills is unsustainable over the long term. A more comprehensive perspective that looks at the cumulative impacts of litter to the environment, human health and property, recreation, wildlife, and agriculture statewide is needed.
Tennessee will continue to have a serious litter problem until better infrastructure and systems are in place—not only clean up litter and try to prevent it in the first place, but to identify ways to optimize the value of the materials in the waste stream. This requires a holistic approach that encourages the extended use and reuse of valuable materials like plastic, glass, and aluminum that contribute to Tennessee’s litter. The approach should recognize citizens, municipalities, and businesses as not only key contributors to the litter problem but as critical to the solution.
We request that you support policies, practices, and legislation that addresses litter and the waste stream holistically—at the individual, municipal, and business/industry levels—to create the socio-economic, environmental, and quality-of-life benefits for Tennessee’s citizens and visitors. Thank you.