There’s a new song in the south, and for Nashville, it’s called Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!
According to the Nashville Metro Beautification and Environment Commission, Mayor Karl Dean wants to turn Music City into the most sustainable city in the Southeast.
The initiative started in 2008, when Dean gathered a Green Ribbon Panel, which proposed 16 goals and 71 recommendations for Nashville, all intended to make the city a greener and more profitable place.
Implementation of the new plan began in 2010. The first change to Nashville’s waste collection system came in the for of a requirement that all leaves and grass clippings be placed in biodegradable paper bags for collection. By July 2011, the city was requiring residents to take yard waste to the curb, and all yard waste was banned from solid waste collection. These changes were the first substantive changes to the city’s waste collection system in more than 50 years.
But Music City hasn’t just been singing back-up. Recommendations by the Green Ribbon Panel go out for another 5 years. And by 2015, the city expects to have banned all electronic waste and cardboard from municipal waste streams, as well as implementing a pay-as-you-throw plan for all residents.
The city has also implemented rigorous school programs that provide both education about recycling and composting as well as an opportunity for students to help their school recycle. The programs have been successful in another way as well. It has offered an opportunity for members of the community to see the immediate effects of recycling, which had boosted participation.
Nashville also has a neighborhood recycling program that targets what it calls “fragile” areas — lower income neighborhoods where the community might not feel quite as invested in sustainability initiatives.
By 2009, Nashville had already reduced the amount of waste going to landfills by 30 percent. With new programs to further reduce waste coming on-line each year, Music City is headed toward a brighter, greener future. Oh, what a happy tune that is!