Addressing Tennessee’s Litter Problem at the General Assembly

Oct 4, 2021

Large amount of litter next to a road.

On September 16, expert panelists organized by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) presented to members of the General Assembly to help inform them about the extent of the state’s litter problem and ways that state agencies, municipalities, and non-profit organizations are trying to tackle it.

Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s CEO, Michael Butler, testified about the tremendous amount of litter plaguing our land, waters, and wildlife as well as about the Tennessee CLEAN campaign. They also heard insights from the Tennessee Department of Transportation Highway Beautification Office; Tennessee Malt Beverage Association; Keep Tennessee Beautiful; Clean Memphis; and Rutherford County.

Some discussion focused on litter prevention and cleanup, with praise for ongoing efforts, but information shared also pointed to considerable unmet funding, infrastructure, and resource needs.

Of particular note, counties like Rutherford and others, struggle with litter and solid waste issues where landfills are nearing capacity. This points to the dire need for more resources to adequately address the situation, and that there is also economic opportunity in the value of recovered materials.

The discussion was part of TACIR’s comprehensive study on litter that will culminate with a final report containing outcomes and recommendations to be provided to the legislature in 2023.

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