Nashville is known for its vibrant music scene and Southern hospitality, but not so much for making strides in environmental conservation. However, Metro Nashville has been actively promoting recycling to reduce waste and minimize its environmental impact. In fact, Nashville has pledged to 90% waste diversion from landfills over the next 30 years. I was able to sit in on a webinar by the Metro Zero Waste Team recently. Read on about the importance of recycling and composting in Metro Nashville and get tips on how to be involved and make a difference.

recycling in nashville tennessee composting80% of waste ends up in a landfill, and the ones around Nashville are quickly filling up! The largest waste stream by weight comes from construction/demolition (33-38%). With all the demolition and construction happening around Nashville, it’s easy to see how our landfills are filling up with this construction waste and, unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot that we, as consumers, can do about that. But the second largest waste stream is food waste. And we can absolutely do something about it.

Composting in Nashville

Composting is catching on as an easy way to divert food waste from the landfill. Even if you don’t have a backyard, you can compost. There are worm bins and countertop composters that would work even for an apartment – you might want to put the worms on the deck, though. Nashville even recently launched a curbside compost collection trial that involves 750 households. If you would like to see this program expanded, be sure to let your commissioners know. Read more about composting in Nashville.

Recycling in Nashville

Metro provides waste and recycling pickup for Nashville’s Urban Services District. Recycling guidelines vary by the companies involved. Find out if these tips apply to you here. If you live outside of these areas and use a different recycling program, please reach out to them for more information.

Recycling Tips for Curbside Pickup

Nashville Waste Services will accept:

  • Cardboard and paper
  • Food and drink cans
  • Plastic bottles, jars, and jugs.

They will not accept:

  • Glass of any kind*
  • Shredded paper
  • Plastic bags
  • Styrofoam
  • Food or liquid (this means you, pizza boxes)

*Glass can be recycled by dropping it off at a convenience center, not through the curbside program.

There used to be a time when plastics were accepted based on the number on the bottom. Gone are those days! Now, plastic bottles, jars, and jugs are accepted to be recycled, no matter the number on the bottom. A bottle, jar, or jug is defined as a container that has a neck where the base is wider than the opening.

Following the Recycling Rules

It is important to follow the guidelines for recycling. When a person accidentally recycles a bottle full of liquid, the compactor will break open the bottle; the liquid spills all over the paper, cardboard, etc. and contaminates the whole batch. And while there are workers on the line at the recycling center to help sort the items as they move through, it is mainly sorted by machine. Some of the unaccepted items will get stuck in the machinery – like plastic bags – so clean and properly sorted recyclables are crucial for an effective recycling program.

Composting and recycling contribute to a greener and more sustainable city. Get involved and help to make Nashville an environmentally responsible place to live.

Learn more about Davidson County’s Long-Term Zero Waste Master Plan.