sierra web logoApril 2008 
Upper Cumberland Group Sierra Club 
Sierra Scene, Vol. 14, No. 3
In This Issue
City of Cookeville Asked To Do Greenhouse Gas Inventory
Sierra Club Supports Container Deposit Bill
Save These Dates
Saturday April 19 Window on the World
Tenn Tech 10-5
Thursday April 25, 7 pm
UCG Meeting Putnam county Library downstairs meeting room
Friday April 25
UCG Sierra tabling at Earth Day at Walmart

Photo By Cella Neapolitan:
(Photo by Cella Neapolitan)  Window on the World, the university's 10th annual international festival celebrating cultural diversity and global harmony.
Saturday, April 19 from 10- 5 in the RUC at 1000 North Dixie, Cookeville.The free-admission festival will showcase performers, artists, craftspeople, chefs, booksellers, and others with ethnic specialties.  The symposium, "U.S.-Iran Relations," is Friday, April 18 at 10:10 a.m. in the RUC's Multi-Purpose Room.  For more information, see
Check Out What's Happening in the Legislature
Container Deposit Bill
is up in Senate Environment Committee Wed. April 23, For more info, see article in righthand column and and click on Pride of Place
Leaf's Scenic Vistas Protection (Anti-Mtntop Removal Mining) Bill was passed out of the Senate Environment Committee with a vote of 8-1 April 16. check with LEAF to see if the bill can be revived in the House.
Sign Tennessee Chapter Sierra Club License Plate Petition , go to Chapter website
cool cities
Keep up with Sierra's
Join us in our local action to urge the City of Cookeville to do a greenhouse gas inventory
Dear UCG Sierrans,
We've had a busy April so far - and there's more to come!
This coming Saturday April 19 is Tech's Window on the World celebration and we will have a Sierra table - so come to this fun event and stop by and see us.
Next Thursday, April 24 is our regular UC Group program meeting.  7 pm at the Putnam County Library downstairs meeting room.  We'll be showing the new William McDonough film, the Next Industrial Revolution.  See the write up below.  It should be quite interesting.  We hope for a big turnout.
Then next Friday, April 25 after some soul-searching by your local Ex Com, we'll particiapte in Cookeville Walmart's Earth Day with a table and some Sierra Club displays.  See left hand column to remind yourself of these dates.
The UC Group hosted the Spring Chapter meeting at Fall Creek Falls last weekend. Despite starting out with tornadoes literally in our path Friday afternoon, the weather Saturday was great.  Folks enjoyed hikes and waterfall viewing.  Our local chef Eston Evans prepared outstanding meals, we watched some fun informative videos and carried on the conservation and administrative work of the chapter.  If you've never been to a Chapter quarterly meeting, you should really try to make one.  July 25-27 meeting is in East Tennessee at Laurel Fork lodge and the October 24-26 meeting is at Pickett State Park.

Mary Mastin
Chair, Upper Cumberland Group

The Next Industrial Revolution and the Growth of a Sustainable Economy is a new 55 minute film, produced by Earthome Productions to communicate the work and vision of architect William McDonough and chemist Dr. Michael Braungart, two leaders in a growing movement to transform the relationship between commerce and nature.  It is narrated by Susan Sarandon.

McDonough and Braungart work with corporations with over half a trillion dollars in annual sales, companies like Ford and Nike, to redesign buildings, processes, and products to work according to nature's rules.

"When we follow nature's rules, growth is good," says Bill McDonough. "The question before us is not growth versus no growth, It is: what would good growth look like? And this is a question of intent, of design. What if we grow health instead of sickness, home ownership instead of indigence, education instead of ignorance?"

Using the stories of five projects that represent a revolutionary change in the direction of the human economy, THE NEXT INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION inspires people to:

* reconsider their current efforts for the environment,

* reinvent their businesses and institutions to work with nature,

* redefine themselves as consumers, producers, and citizens to promote a new sustainable relationship with the Earth.

THE NEXT INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION can be purchased in DVD or VHS video formats. The film is a project of Earthome, a 501(c)(3) Maryland non-profit organization working to promote sustainability and environmental education.

We will be showing this film Thursday, April 24 at 7 pm in the downstairs meeting room of the Putnam County Library.

SOCM/Sierra Committee for a Clean Energy Future Asks the City to Join ICLEI and Do an Inventory of Greenhouse Gases

The Roaring River Chapter of Save Our Cumberland Mountains and the Upper Cumberland Group of the Sierra Club encourage the City of Cookeville government to enhance its existing efforts to reduce fuel use through efficiency and proven practices by doing what any successful and long standing business does - systematic and system wide periodic self evaluations.

We have all benefitted at retail store pre-inventory sales. Inventory is one method businesses use to get a snapshot of a moment. These snapshots when put together can show the history and progress of an entity. They can also help plan future projects with as much fiscal responsibility as possible, as no one can predict the future. And as every entity needs to take intelligent risks to grow, inventories help - here the city - evaluate a policy, program, or effort after it has been implemented in measurable terms.

As the City Council and City staff work diligently at responsible growth and care of its citizens, we urge the City to utilize a tool that Sierra Club Cool Cities program supports: software created by the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) - Local Governments Sustainability. Knoxville and Chattanooga have both recently joined ICLEI. Membership in this association will give Cookeville access not only to this software, it will give the city technical support, training, information from other cities in their efforts, and a host of other resources and expertise from their twenty-eight years of experience in the field.

Use of the ICLEI greenhouse gas inventory and follow up actions can help the City improve air quality, save money and create new local jobs in growing industry sectors.

SOCM/Sierra Committee for a Clean Energy Future: Ralph Bowden, Prit Chowdhuri, Mary Jean Delozier, Jon Jonakin, Peggy Evans, Mary Mastin


Sierra Club Supports the Container Deposit Bill

Every one of us can readily see that Tennessee has a litter problem along our roadsides- almost 4 billion containers weighing some 200,000 tons with a potential market value of as much as $100 million. Beverage containers account for roughly 50 percent of Tennessee's litter volume, according to a 2005 litter survey and the observations of jail litter crews and TDOT supervisors.


What if this enormous quantity of containers were recycled? Senate Bill1408-House Bill1829 pending in the Legislature make this possible.

Under the bill, the customer pays 5 cents extra per container for at the point of purchase as a deposit. This will show as a separate, untaxed line item at the bottom of the receipt. The customer recovers the deposit by returning the empty container to any one of a number of private redemption centers set up throughout the community.

Glass, aluminum and plastic containers for soft drinks, teas, beer and bottled water are covered by the bill. Milk and liquor containers are excluded.

The deposit is turned in to a state fund at the Department of Environment and Conservation. When containers are returned to a recycling redemption center, the deposit is refunded. Beverage distributors have no role in collecting or recycling the empty containers. This will be done by private recycler-redemption operators in return for all or most of the scrap value. The redemption centers will be voluntary and independent, certified by the state. They most likely will be mainly mom-and-pop centers or non-profit organizations or local government. The centers will earn a 3-cent-per-container handling fee. (The state collects this fee from the beverage distributors and disburses it to the redemption centers.)

The 3-cent handling fee is separate from the consumer deposit refund, paid to the state by the beverage distributor. It covers the costs of collecting, transporting and recycling some 200,000 tons of glass, plastic and aluminum packaging and seeing that it stays out of the landfills and goes back into manufacturing. It will be part of the "shelf price" of the product, just as advertising and raw materials and personnel are part of the shelf price of a product. If we pay 18 cents more for a six pack of drinks and get half the trash off our roadsides and vacant lots, it is worth it, in my opinion.

The program will be part of the state's existing Division of Solid Waste Management within the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The few new staff required will be paid for by the 3-cent handling fee. Because the handling fees stay within the program, TDEC will have more money to enhance its existing environmental programs for recycling and waste management.

Retailers are not required to take back empty containers. If a store chooses to take back empty containers as a convenience to its customers, it will have several automated options for doing so, including reverse vending machines (RVMs). Imagine putting your empties into a machine and getting a printed chit you can spend like cash.

Local governments can run their own redemption centers, thus earning an average $130,000 a year (probably much more) while boosting recycling and providing jobs. Or nonprofit agencies such as homeless shelters could choose to open a redemption center and thus supplement their budget while providing jobs and job training opportunities for their clients

Retail beverage prices are somewhat lower, on average, in the 11 states that have a bottle bill than in the states that do not. A 2006 survey of Pepsi 12-pack prices in all 50 states, for instance, found that everyday (not sale) prices averaged $4.22 in the 11 bottle-bill states vs. $4.34 in the 39 other states, and in almost all cases were about the same or lower than the average price for their region. Some of the lowest beverage prices in the nation are in the states with the highest handling fees: Maine (3¢), Vermont (3¢) and New York (2.25¢). The fact is that retail beverage prices are a reflection of many market factors.

Distributors will no longer pay existing "litter taxes" on beer and soda that they've been paying since 1981. These taxes, paid in the aggregate and totaling about $5 million a yea, currently pay for litter education and prisoner litter pickups through the county litter grants program. These taxes will be eliminated under the bottle bill, but the litter grants themselves will continue and in fact will get twice as much money-via a $10 million annual allotment from unclaimed deposits. Putnam County's litter grant under the bill would go from $22,250 in 2007-08 to $90,300 under this bill, (using TDOT's existing formula.).

There will be roughly $35 million a year available for local new initiatives by nonprofit groups. In other states, bottle drives are a major fundraising tool for schools. Estimates are that the voluntary redemption centers will gross $130,000 a year (based on 800 centers and an 85 percent return rate). County and city governments can operate container redemption centers and use the money earned to fund recycling costs for other materials like cardboard and paper.

We will benefit from longer landfill life, reduced waste-management and litter costs. Business revenue increases when deposits are redeemed and spent, usually at the store next dor to the reverse vending machine. We can have more money for schools and the energy cost savings from a bottle bill.

It takes far less energy and raw material to make new containers from used ones than it does to make them from scratch-95 percent less energy in the case of aluminum cans. The more containers that can be remanufactured from used ones, the bigger the savings-savings to the distributor and the customer.

Here in Tennessee, we have unusual access to three of the world's largest buyers of used beverage containers: Alcoa (aluminum); Mohawk carpet (plastic) and Strategic Materials (glass). Coca-Cola recently began building a $60 million bottle-to-bottle recycling facility in South Carolina, and Alcoa recently broke ground on a $22 million expansion of its aluminum recycling capacity in Tennessee. Neither facility, however, will achieve anywhere near the 70 percent-90 percent recovery that is possible unless we pass a bottle bill.

Even relatively low-value green glass has a market under a bottle bill, because the deposit and redeem guarantees the high volume of "pure" used glass (i.e., properly sorted by material and color) needed to sustain production. Bottle bills not only support existing markets, they help create new ones, such as high-end aluminum furniture and "artificial" beach sand made of pulverized glass.

A bottle bill captures most of a community's aluminum cans and thus the most valuable part of its recycling stream. Solid waste officials in other states have found that any losses in aluminum revenues are more than made up for by (1) increased revenues from increased recycling of other commodities, such as cardboard; (2) decreased costs for waste hauling and landfilling; and (3) savings from no longer having to deal with glass and in some cases plastic, which are hard to sell in the small quantities typically recovered without a bottle bill. In Tennessee, each ton of containers diverted from a landfill will save anywhere from $25 to $75 taxpayer dollars. This helps counties get closer to the 25-percent solid waste diversion goal in the state's Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act of 1991. At the moment, fewer than half the counties have achieved this modest goal. and the state as a whole has been stuck at 18 percent for several years.

The County Commissions of Maury and Loudon Counties and the Tennessee Sheriff's Association have endorsed the bill, as well as numerous civic and environmental organizations, including: Scenic Tennessee, the Lebanon Beautification Board, Recycle Rutherford,, Keep Bristol Beautiful, Kingsport Citizens for a Cleaner Environment, the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs, the Sierra Club and Tennessee Conservation Voters.

The Upper Cumberland Group of the Sierra Club has asked the the Planning Committee of the Putnam County Commission to endorse the bill. We urge you to join us in this request and to ask Senator Burks and Representative Fincher to sign on with the other dozen or so legislator co-sponsors and support the bill in the Legislature.