Because empties are full of opportunities.
Welcome to TennCan, the new face of the all-volunteer Tennessee Bottle Bill Project. Our new name reflects our new emphasis on the good things Tennessee can do when a 5-cent refundable deposit is added to Tennessee beverage containers, with returns to any of hundreds of private, public and not-for-profit redemption centers. We're constantly adding new information, data and images, so please check back often. In the meantime, please go to Get Involved to add your name to the TennCan Action Network e-mail list. With your help, we can do this!
Here's what a well-designed deposit-return system can do for Tennessee:
Put a big dent in litter
Our surveys consistently 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. It will also ensure the uninterrupted funding of Tennessee’s existing litter program known as the “county litter grants."
Photo: Third Creek, Knoxville, by Mark Campen
Raise funds 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 neighborhood redemption centers that are owned, operated and staffed by the nonprofits themselves. In fact, TennCan requires that every redemption center in the state have at least one nonprofit "buddy."
Photo: Liverpool (NY) High School Marching Band: $3,467 in one day
Boost recycling rates
Tennesseans recycle barely 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 with a bottle bill, brown glass stays with brown glass, aluminum doesn't get baled with cardboard, and high-value PET or HDPE doesn't get junk-mixed with plastics 3-7.
Photo: Brown glass from a deposit state at a Strategic Materials processing plant
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 Deposit
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: We can make sure similar opportunities open up in Tennessee. Go to Get Involved or Contact.