Who We Are
TennCan is an all-volunteer effort to increase recycling, reduce litter, create jobs, support green manufacturing and strengthen communities in Tennessee, by advocating for a refundable 5-cent deposit on glass, plastic and aluminum beverage containers. Launched in 2005 as the Tennessee Bottle Bill Project, TennCan is hosted by Scenic Tennessee, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the scenic beauty of the Volunteer State. Scenic Tennessee is an affiliate of the national organization Scenic America.
TennCan's efforts are supported by a broad network of individuals and local, regional and statewide groups and businesses: schools, garden clubs, farm bureaus, hunting and fishing organizations, social-service agencies, processors, manufacturers, environmental organizations, tourism councils, chambers of commerce, numerous county commissions and sheriffs offices and a growing number of Tennessee legislators. It relies heavily on the reports, data and guidance of the Container Recycling Institute (CRI), a California-based research and advocacy nonprofit organization with an international reputation for objectivity, expertise and collaboration across all sectors of the recycling and policy-making worlds.
The campaign is coordinated by Marge Davis, president of Scenic Tennessee, a past member of the Governor's Advisory Council for Keep Tennessee Beautiful, and since 2009 a member of the CRI executive board. Marge, who has a doctorate in English from Vanderbilt University, is an award-winning conservation writer with a particular interest in conservation history and resource management. Before she left the salary-earning world in 2001 to become a full-time volunteer, she was publications editor for the Waste Reduction Assistance Program of the University of Tennessee's Center for Industrial Services (part of the Institute for Public Service and the Tennessee Manufacturing Extension Partnership), where she profiled the resource-conservation efforts and success stories of dozens of Tennessee businesses, from the very large to the very small. She has written widely for a host of Tennessee conservation publications, including The Tennessee Conservationist (magazine of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation) and Tennessee Wildlife (magazine of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency). Her 1997 book, Sportsmen United: The Story of the Tennessee Conservation League, is considered the most authoritative account to date of the conservation history of Tennessee starting in the 1800s.
Marge grew up in Portland, Maine, and graduated from Bates College the same year (1976) that Maine voters passed the nation's third deposit-return law by a referendum vote of 57 percent. When she joined the staff of the Maine Audubon Society a year later, opponents of the new law had just launched a multimillion-dollar effort to do away with it. Maine Audubon led the campaign to save the bottle bill, and in 1979, in what is still on record as the largest turnout in Maine referendum history, voters upheld their container deposit law by an overwhelming 85% margin.
By the time that second vote took place, Marge was living in Nashville, working at Fisk University, and involved in Tennessee's first effort to pass its own deposit-return law. Though that initial effort failed, it launched a support network that is still in force today. Please join us!