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TDEC announces 2025 Solid Waste and Materials Management Plan

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 | 05:55am

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced today its 2025 Solid Waste and Materials Management Plan at the 2015 Environmental Show of the South in Gatlinburg, Tenn. 

“The plan marks a new era in sustainable materials management in Tennessee, serving as a roadmap for Tennessee solid waste stakeholders,” TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau said. “It will help establish a comprehensive statewide solid waste management system that continues to protect public health and safety and enhance the quality of the environment, but with extra focus on sustainability and recycling.”

While the 1991 Solid Waste Management Plan’s focus was on ensuring adequate collection infrastructure and disposal capacity, the 2015-2025 plan embraces the concept of sustainable materials management, which incorporates several themes, including:

  • Many materials at the end of their useful life still have value, and as such can and should be recovered;
  • Decisions about sustainable materials management do not just occur at the end of a product’s useful life, but also when a purchasing decision is made;
  • The waste management hierarchy establishes a preferred approach to managing materials (reuse, then recovery, processing with energy recovery, incineration without energy recovery, and disposal), but acknowledges that other factors also come into play in making a decision regarding how a material will be managed, including transportation costs and environmental impacts, the use of multiple methods for managing waste, costs, and other factors; and,
  • To the extent that Tennessee manufacturers can use recovered materials from within the state as a feedstock, Tennessee businesses will be able to keep the economic benefits of recycling activity in Tennessee. Recycling is not just beneficial to Tennessee’s environment, but is also beneficial to the economy.

The plan seeks to fulfill the policy statements of the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991 through working diligently and closely with stakeholders to accomplish environmentally sound solid waste collection, treatment and disposal through source reduction, reuse, recycling, composting and other methods. Further, the vision is to promote Tennessee end markets for material processing and end use.

The plan’s objectives are as follows:

Objective 1: Update Goals and Measure Progress – establish more robust solid waste management goals, to more accurately measure the disposition of municipal solid waste in Tennessee, and to better assess progress toward achieving those goals.

Objective 2: Increase Access to and Participation in Recycling – expand the breadth of recycling making sure access to convenient recycling programs is available to all Tennesseans, as well as expanding participation in recycling programs.

Objective 3: Enhance Processing and End Markets – facilitate closing the materials processing gaps and increasing the opportunities for end uses of recovered materials in Tennessee, in an effort to incentivize increased diversion and simultaneously strengthen the state’s economy.

Objective 4: Increase Diversion of Organics – encourage the reuse, composting, and beneficial use of organics, as well as implement source reduction efforts, to decrease the disposal of these materials.

Objective 5: Support New Diversion Technology – support the adoption of new technologies in the state, as appropriate, that will help Tennessee move closer to reaching its waste diversion and recycling goals.

Objective 6: Expand and Focus Education and Outreach – improve education and outreach in Tennessee regarding the opportunities for source reduction, recycling, and composting, and the benefits of these activities relative to disposal.

Objective 7: Ensure Sufficient and Environmentally Sound Disposal – monitor MSW disposal capacity to be sure it is sufficient, and ensure that disposal facilities are maintained in an environmentally sound manner.

Objective 8: Develop Sustainable Funding Sources for Sustainable Materials Management – ensure that state and local governments have sustainable funding sources in place to develop and support programs to manage municipal solid waste and materials.

TDEC will accomplish the stated objectives using several strategies and tactics, including providing technical assistance to local governments, seeking public/private partnerships, developing partnerships with other agencies and organizations, leveraging existing programs more fully, and providing grants to local governments.

To accomplish these objectives, TDEC will rely on the engagement of the many stakeholder groups listed throughout the plan and the implementation tables.

To view the full plan, visit: http://www.tn.gov/environment/solid-waste/docs/plan-2025/tdec_2025-final-plan.pdf

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