Nashville wants to manage trash as a resource instead of throwing it in the landfill in Rutherford County which only has eight years of space left, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Nashville’s new zero waste master plan just drafted in July adopts proven practices from cities like San Francisco, which in an even bolder move, is even banning all plastic bottles from its airport.

Sharon Smith with Metro Public Works explains, “Sometimes it takes a potential impending crisis for people to think about, ‘is that really what we want to do?’” The zero waste plan calls for mandatory recycling and composting for every business and everybody.

Metro’s latest data shows that Nashville’s throwing 82 percent of our trash in the landfill, only 12 percent recycle and only six percent compost. “Looking at how we can increase recycling services for our own customers which is once a month and we’re planning to go to every other week to make it more convenient,” Smith said. Project Nashville learned the city could move to a ‘save as a you throw’ (SAYT) strategy where you pay less for trash service if you throw less away.

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