TennCan logo 2018 27kb.png

TennCan

Because empties are full
of opportunities

 

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 refundable deposit on glass, plastic and aluminum beverage containers, with returns to redemption centers. Our new name reflects the myriad of opportunities this program will make possible, from generating cash for communities to creating jobs for the homeless. There are many ways to get involved: sign up for e-mails, add your name, organization or business to our list of supporters, join the TennCan Action Network, or come to TennCan Training Day, August 11 in Nashville.

Register Now!
TennCan Training Day
Saturday, Aug 11, 2018
Belmont UMC, Nashville

If the 2019 TennCan bill is to succeed, we need to be working now to gain the support of legislators, candidates and our fellow Tennesseans. On Saturday, August 11, we're holding a workshop in Nashville for advocates from across the state. We'll drill on the facts, brainstorm the strategies, master the messaging and form the alliances needed to make this happen. To register (or simply to indicate your interest), click here to fill out the online registration form. And then invite others to do the same! 

 "I continue to be dedicated to this project and will purchase  the first  REDEMPTION CENTER."           --Bob Keast, Tennessee River Pearl Farm

"I continue to be dedicated to this project and will purchase the first REDEMPTION CENTER."           --Bob Keast, Tennessee River Pearl Farm

Tennesseans on TennCan

"As owner of a recreation-based business, I know how essential it is to present a vibrant, positive, healthful image to the visiting public. I have invested heavily in making sure my property reflects the outstanding natural beauty of the area that surrounds it. I am sorry to say that my efforts are continually hampered by litter, most of which seems to consist of beer bottles, water bottles, soft-drink cans and other beverage-container debris. ... I respect voluntary recycling and cleanup programs. I myself helped launch the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program back in the early 1970s and currently oversee 60 miles of state highways in litter removal on an annual basis. But having watched the litter problem get steadily worse over the years, I am now convinced that the only way to change littering behavior once and for all is to make beverage containers too valuable to throw away."

--Bob Keast, owner of Birdsong Resort, Marina and Campground in Camden,
and founder of America's only pearl culturing site, The Tennessee River Freshwater Pearl Farm, Museum and Tour, in testimony to the Senate Environment, Conservation and Tourism Committee in April 2008. 

This footage was recorded near the Mississippi River in Memphis after a storm event in March 2012. The videographer was “Capt Vic” Scoggin, boat captain, founder of Save the Cumberland and water quality activist who famously swam the length of the Cumberland River some 25 years ago to bring attention to water pollution in the river and in Tennessee. See his website at http://www.savethecumberland.org/

 Today container deposits are a way of life for nearly 300 million people in some 50 states, provinces and countries around the globe, but in 1978, you could count such programs on one hand. Maine was one of them, easily passing a 5-cent deposit by voter referendum in 1976 (it took effect in 1978). Today, 40 years later, Maine's bottle bill remains the most popular piece of conservation legislation ever enacted in the state, enjoying an 80%-85% public approval rating to match its 85% redemption rate. The program's anniversary is celebrated in the  Summer 2018 issue of    Habitat ,  the magazine of the Maine Audubon Society. MAS helped lead the initial referendum victory in 1976—and repeated the process in 1979, when opponents tried to repeal the law. In what is still the biggest referendum turnout in Maine history, the repeal question failed spectacularly, with just 15 percent of voters opting to get rid of the law, and 85 percent voting to keep  it. 

Today container deposits are a way of life for nearly 300 million people in some 50 states, provinces and countries around the globe, but in 1978, you could count such programs on one hand. Maine was one of them, easily passing a 5-cent deposit by voter referendum in 1976 (it took effect in 1978). Today, 40 years later, Maine's bottle bill remains the most popular piece of conservation legislation ever enacted in the state, enjoying an 80%-85% public approval rating to match its 85% redemption rate. The program's anniversary is celebrated in the Summer 2018 issue of Habitat, the magazine of the Maine Audubon Society. MAS helped lead the initial referendum victory in 1976—and repeated the process in 1979, when opponents tried to repeal the law. In what is still the biggest referendum turnout in Maine history, the repeal question failed spectacularly, with just 15 percent of voters opting to get rid of the law, and 85 percent voting to keep  it. 

Here are just a few of the good things a well-designed
deposit-return program will 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

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Raise cash for nonprofits

TennCan will generate millions of dollars for Tennessee's schools, libraries, the homeless, Scout troops, animal shelters, programs for folks with special needs, and countless 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 organizations 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  

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Boost recycling rates

Tennesseans recycle just 10% of the 4 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 extremely "pure." Brown glass stays with brown glass, aluminum doesn't sneak into bales of cardboard, and high-value PET and HDPE don't get junk-mixed with plastics 3-7.

Photo: Brown glass at a Strategic Materials processing plant in a deposit state

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Support manufacturing

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 our Get Involved or Contact Us page.