Solid Waste in Rutherford County

Rutherford County is on the brink of a solid waste crisis. Tennessee’s largest landfill, and the destination for most of Middle Tennessee’s garbage, is closing in just a few short years. Despite this, Rutherford County, and most of Middle Tennessee, is yet to construct a plan for the future.

For the last several years, the Rutherford County SOCM chapter has advocated for the adoption of more sustainable solid waste practices. We can no longer continue to simply bury our waste in the ground. We must divert as much of our waste as possible, and we can only do that by wholly supporting composting and recycling.

Rutherford County needs to greatly expand our recycling operations. We have convenience centers for people to drop off material, but we need to make recycling easier for our citizens. Curbside pickup is a necessity: recycling must be accessible, easy, and second-nature for the residents of Rutherford County. We also need to invest in handling and processing facilities to deal with the recycling materials we collect.

Many argue that there’s no money to be had in recyclables, but that isn’t true. There is a market for these materials, even locally, and properly sorting and processing will allow us to offset the costs of collection. Lastly, to enable this process, we need a regional solid waste authority. The city of Murfreesboro or Rutherford County cannot afford to go it alone.

The solid waste status quo involves many of our Middle Tennessee neighbors, and once Middle Point landfill closes, they’ll be in the same boat as us. In fact, the entire state of Tennessee has no more than a decade’s worth of landfill space left, and many solutions are too expensive for individual municipalities to fund alone.

Rutherford County and the communities within need to work together with our neighbors. This doesn’t mean that we’re at the whims of other interests, rather that together we are not at the whims of private companies that dictate our options.

The Rutherford County chapter of SOCM sees positive movements on the issue of solid waste, but there’s always more to be done, and we’ll continue to advocate for safe, clean, and modern approaches to handling our waste