Tennessee landfills approximately 8-9 million tons of solid waste and construction waste a year. The average tipping fee is $35.00 per ton. Collection, hauling, processing, and landfilling averages $110.00 per ton which equals 1.4 billion dollars spent on waste disposal by our local businesses, citizens and local governments.
BURNT’s goal is to substantially reduce the tons of waste landfilled.
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Tennessee is the only state which credits landfilled construction waste as recycled. Tennessee solid waste numbers are extremely inaccurate–Tennessee claims 50% diversion while the Columbia University and Bio-Cycle Magazine 2010 survey of waste by state found that Tennessee diverted 4.74%–a 45% spread! (Tennessean, 22 April 2012) This huge loop hole is symbolic of Tennessee’s solid waste management. Karst terrain covers 2/3 of Tennessee. Many landfills contaminate water. BURNT’s primary efforts are local officials who are beleagured by schools, roads, health, and jails. They do not want another headache. And, the state of Tennessee does little to reduce landfills. Laws and regulations are out-moded and loop hole riddled A one page summary of current rules is attached. “A Summary of Comments” [LINK]” is the Department reaction to public and local government comments. We maintain these comments are riddled with untruths [link] BURNT wrote many letters about the “Waste Reduction Rule” because we know this Rule will govern solid waste in Tennessee for many years. This Rule creates a skewed market. There is no competition with cheap landfill rates and a state government that tolerates pollution of groundwater, green house gasses, and undermining businesses which could use solid waste and construction waste as a raw material. [[[many lettersI suggest linking the letters below with brief explanations]]] Public Chapter 0462 was 2007 llegislation which TDEC was quite untruthful at the final hearing that the language on page 3–4 did not mandate the Solid Waste Control Disposal Board to consider specific factors such as costs, benefits, different regions, and distance from markets. BURNT’s strategy is two pronged. First, demonstrate that jobs and business can be created by recycling and reuse of construction waste. Construction waste is 20% of the waste stream. Second, show that jobs can be created by recycling, and composting food waste, yard waste, and non-recycled paper. Food waste is 14% of the waste stream, yard waste is 13%, and nonrecycled paper is 20%—47% of the 8-9 million tons of waste we landfill. Presently, Tennessee has 70 Class III construction waste landfills and 32 Class I municipal waste landfills. 67% of the waste is construction or organic food-yard-paper waste. [link to US EPA Pie chart] Landfills generate 16% of green house gasses [link to USEPA] The landfill industry pushes “methane mining” [link] but this allows a high p[er cent of methane and other green houses gasses to escape. This is not an elegant solution. Keeping the organic food waste, yard waste, and paper ouot of the landfills prevents damage to the landfills and creates jobs and business and useful product These solutions are incremental. The 10 largest counties in Tennessee (out of 96) contain 50% of the population. By all appearances, it is the ease of local officials and, perhaps, the near cash nature of annual the $1.4 billion revenue which may influence some decisions on disposal. A landfill is either an engineered depression in the ground or a reservoir built on top of the ground into which wastes are disposed. The aim of a landfill, in addition to disposing of waste, is to avoid any water-related connection between the wastes and the surrounding environment, particularly groundwater. In 1987 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a report that stated “eventually all landfills leak”. A landfill will typically leak in two ways: out the bottom if it is not lined properly or over the top if not covered. Currently the U.S. has 3,091 active landfills and over 10,000 old municipal landfills. Every year, the United States generates approximately 230 million tons of waste – about 4.6 pounds per person per day. Tennessee citizens, businesses and government spend 1.0 billion dollars to landfill 10 million tons of solid waste annually. The U.S. EPA reports that most of the country’s landfills have been closed for one or both of two reasons: (1) they were full; or (2) they were contaminating groundwater. Environmental injustice is demonstrated because most landfills are located in economically depressed areas where poor, rural and minority populations live and work. It is estimated that 70% of the solid waste which is landfilled could be reused or recycled including food waste (14% of waste), yard waste (13%), and non-recycled paper (20%) BURNT works to address these problems by providing education and research to elected state officials, Metro Nashville officials, the State Solid Waste Board, and citizens and leaders of cities in Tennessee affected by landfills. Further, BURNT works to educate citizens, businesses and governments with research on how to manage waste as a raw material for jobs and business.