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 Tennessee can do when a 5-cent refundable deposit is added to Tennessee beverage containers, with returns handled by a network of nonprofit, private and public redemption centers. This site is still being developed, so please check back often. In the meantime, please go to Get Involved to add your name to our 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
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
As programs around the globe have demonstrated for decades, a Tennessee bottle bill will generate tens of millions of dollars for schools, libraries, Scout troops, animal shelters and other community groups and nonprofits, whether through bottle drives and donation bins, or through neighborhood redemption centers that are owned, operated and staffed by the nonprofits themselves.
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 doesn't get junk-mixed with plastics 3-7.
Photo: brown glass 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 Cheatham County plant of the largest glass processor in North America (Strategic Materials), and just across the border from the world's largest consumer of recycled PET plastic (the carpet companies of north Georgia.
Photo: Aluminum sheet at Alcoa