Because empties are full
Welcome to TennCan, the new face of the Tennessee Bottle Bill Project—the all-volunteer effort to increase recycling and reduce litter in Tennessee through a 5-cent deposit on glass, plastic and aluminum beverage containers, with returns to any of hundreds of private, public and not-for-profit redemption centers. Our new name and logo reflect the myriad of good things that will come out of this program, from cash for community groups to jobs for the homeless. We're constantly adding new information, data and images, so please check back often. In the meantime, you can sign up for e-mails and updates here, or go to our Action Network or Endorsement pages to get even more involved.
With your help, Tennessee Can do this!
Here are just some of the good things a well-designed deposit-return system can do for Tennessee:
Put a big dent in litter
Our surveys show that bottles and cans account for roughly half of Tennessee’s litter volume. (Just ask any deputy sheriff who overseas daily cleanup crews from the county jails.) By eliminating most of this portion of Tennessee's litter stream, TennCan will give us dramatically cleaner roadsides, waterways and public spaces. The proposed legislation also ensures the uninterrupted funding of Tennessee’s existing litter program known as the “county litter grants."
Photo: Third Creek, Knoxville, by Mark Campen
Raise cash for nonprofits
TennCan will generate millions of dollars for Tennessee's schools, libraries, the homeless, programs for folks with special needs, Scout troops, animal shelters, and other not-for-profit and community groups and causes, whether through bottle drives and donation bins, or through redemption centers that are owned, operated and staffed by the nonprofits themselves. In fact, TennCan requires that every redemption center in the state either be a nonprofit, or have at least one nonprofit "buddy."
Photo: Liverpool (NY) High School Marching Band raised $3,467 in one day
Boost recycling rates
Tennesseans recycle just 10% of the 5 billion-plus beverage containers we consume each year. TennCan will boost that figure to 80%, possibly higher, and it will do so in a way that ensures the most beneficial use for each container—even the glass that many people today believe is "unmarketable." Why? Because bottle bill scrap is never mixed with other items. Brown glass stays with brown glass, aluminum doesn't sneak into bales of cardboard, and high-value PET or HDPE don't get junk-mixed with plastics 3-7.
Photo: Brown glass at a Strategic Materials processing plant in a deposit state
U.S. manufacturers are hungry for the kind of high-volume, high-quality container scrap generated by a bottle bill. And nowhere is that demand so concentrated as right here in Tennessee, home to the world's largest aluminum maker (Alcoa), the Ashland City plant of the largest glass processor in North America (Strategic Materials), and (just across the border) the world's largest consumer of recycled PET plastic (the carpet manufacturers of north Georgia).
Photo: Aluminum sheet at Alcoa
Sure We Can: The Transformative Power of a Nickel
Check out the video below about our friends at the amazing Sure We Can in New York City. If you are involved with a group or agency in Tennessee that works with or advocates on behalf of the homeless, please let us know: Together we can make sure similar opportunities open up in Tennessee. Go to Get Involved or Contact.