Bill up to allow recycling centers to expand outdoors

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 11:45pm

A bill being considered by the Metro Council would allow recycling facilities to operate outside, overhauling an existing policy that says recycling operations must be carried out entirely within enclosed structures.

Filed originally alongside two other zoning code changes the council already approved, the bill’s intent is to make it easier to recycle waste from construction and demolition sites by removing a law that has impeded recycling centers from opening in the past. In this case, a recycling center refers to the place where material is separated, processed, treated and converted.

“With the nature of construction/demolition recycling — there’s rock grinding and various things — the feeling was that it was impractical to try to do that in a completely enclosed buildings,” said Sharon Smith, recycling coordinator of Metro Public Works.

The ordinance, sponsored by council members Walter Hunt and Parker Toler, was deferred in June but is now set to go before the council Tuesday on the final of three votes.

Long term, the recycling facility policy change — recommended by Mayor Karl Dean’s Green Ribbon Committee and approved by the Metro Planning Commission — is meant to divert waste from landfills to recycling sites.

If approved, outside recycling facilities must be built within industrially zoned property that is at least 1,000 feet from residentially zoned property; otherwise such facilities would be required to remain enclosed. By law, all recycling facilities, including those outside, would be subject to various regulations that, among other things, limit the size of a facility to one acre, force piles of debris to be removed by a certain time, and require recycling facilities to go through a permitting process before opening.

Despite the regulations, some Metro council members whose districts could be affected by the change in recycling center policy oppose the move.

Councilman Buddy Baker, who represents parts of west Nashville, said he’s under the impression an outside recycling facility is planned to go at Centennial Boulevard near John C. Tune Airport, which is located inside his district. He fears storing construction and demolition material in the open air would likely attract birds and could pose a safety hazard to planes in the area.

“I don’t particularly care for one, especially being outside this close to the airport,” said Baker. “We don’t need a bunch of birds, especially these big old, crow-like birds, that close to the airport.”

Though recycling facilities are monitored to ensure waste is removed with frequency, Baker also said he’s worried about piles of debris building up.

“I know they’re supposed to be moving out pretty quick and everything ... but at landfills and recycling sites, stuff piles up,” Baker said.

12 Comments on this post:

By: No_Dump_Nashville on 9/15/10 at 7:00

The idea of recycling outdoors is absurd. They require this to be done indoors for a reason. Outdoors you have wind thrown debris, dust, possible rodents and birds attracted to the area. Not to mention, the property values of surrounding businesses will be negatively affected. If I just invested millions of dollars in a parcel of land, I would not want an outdoor dumping site to be my neighbor. This bill will affect all material in this waste stream, not just “rocks”. Everything under the sun is thrown in those dumpsters, lunch sacks, tires, mattresses, paint cans, and who knows what else. If the city wants to permit “rock crushing”, they need to just worry about that one item and not pass a blanket bill, without any input from near-by residents or business owners.

By: TharonChandler on 9/15/10 at 7:07

Recycling is one of The most important business of government because the market would still reward exploitation of scarce resources and passing the cost on to future generations. Plus the fact that no one in the future wants to 'dig in' to all the mounds of used mcdonalds cups and water bottles being now burried.

By: No_Dump_Nashville on 9/15/10 at 7:23

Recycling indoors = A good thing....Outdoors with no protection systems in place for the community = Not so good...!

By: Pilot_01 on 9/15/10 at 8:58

I have been a pilot for 27 years and own a plane at John Tune airport. Flying is dangerous enough by its self, much less if you had the possibility of birds next to the terminus. Has Nashville not learned anything from Captain Sullenberger and his Hudson River emergency landing? Birds and planes DO NOT mix..!! No one can tell me with utmost certainty that no food will be in this waste stream and birds will not be attracted to this area. If this passes I would consider moving my plane to another terminal and I would wonder if this would increase insurance premiums..??

By: 1buddyladd on 9/15/10 at 10:36

My place of employment is right next to John C Tune airport. We see many planes leave each day. My concern is that one of those planes could be hit by either trash in the air or a bird lose control and crash into my office. We have several hundred people here each day and I know it is a concern to a lot of them. An indoor facility would greatly reduce if not elimiate the chances of this happening.

Lets do all we can to keep this area picked up and safe for everyone.

By: NashvilleGreen on 9/15/10 at 11:26

Won't we all be glad when we have the equivalent of mini-landfills all over town! Opening the door for outside recycling facilites is a terrible idea and the people of Nashville need to take notice of this issue before it becomes a major problem. There are plenty of other cities around the country that continue to recycle indoors, and Nashville should as well. If this bill passes, it will be to the detriment of our community.

By: TNBusinesstobusiness on 9/15/10 at 4:03

What about the fact that you're going to have a huge mass of flammable material without a fire suppression system?
Indoor facilities are required to have a suppression system.
An outdoor facility wouldn't be required to have a suppression system.
Any loose cigarette could incinerate a bonfire. All we'd need then would be some marshmallow's and hot dogs.
To top it all off the taxpayers would have to foot the bill for the fire department to come out there.

By: E_First on 9/16/10 at 6:57

From the Analysis for this bill on Metro's website: "Most of these available sites are located in the Cockrill Bend, Omohundro, and Sidco industrial areas." Has Nashville NOT learned anything from the flood. If these mini-dumping sites are allowed in these areas, we are going to have piles of debris and trash piled. All of these areas located beside the Cumberland river. What happens if we have another flood? We will have debris floating all over this city, polluting our rivers and streams. At least under the current rules, with an "enclosed building" this material would be secured inside a building and not free to endanger our natual resources.

By: shlw77 on 9/16/10 at 10:28

I'm going to have to agree with the previous posts on this article. Not only are these some issues but also who wants to look at all the trash piling up. Indoor facilities are the way to go on recycling. It's easier to contain and control the elements. Outdoor facilities would cause a big mess to clean up. If a strong wind blows through you'll be picking up trash for weeks. I'm sure the passengers going to John Tune airport would love that smell and the sight of the trash everytime they get on the plane as well. I would also like to point out to the one quoted in the main article who commented about rock grinding is impractical indoors that it is not impractical. Also, a rock crusher would put out enough dust particles that could build up in plane engines and cause damage. I've worked on construction projects at airports. I know that when there is dust from the work that it is extremely dangerous to airplanes. Also, to breath the limestone( all of middle tennessee is sitting on a mountain of limestone) dust is dangerous. This is what cement and drywall is derived from. Do you want to breath that in? I don't! There are containments set in place in indoor facilities for these factors. If our lawmakers care about the environment( Keep Nashville Green) they will not pass this bill and keep C&D recycling indoors.

By: political1iam on 9/16/10 at 2:04

Folks , read the bill.This is for construction and demolition dry waste that can only be collected outside in an industrial zone. (no birds) It was recommended by the committee as a way to keep this debris out of landfills.Everyone creates waste but no one wants the responsibility of its disposal. This is a good ordinance

By: shef2 on 9/16/10 at 5:06

I wonder if there's a way to use fencing to "cage" the debris, keeping animals (& people) out of the "job activity" area...
Would that work-?

By: Will_A on 9/17/10 at 8:02

Quote from political1iam: "an industrial zone. (no birds)". I am glad to know that birds do not fly into industrial; I did not know they were smart enough to tell between industrial or residential neighborhoods. I have been a pilot and general contractor in Nashville for over 20 years and I can tell you that food does in fact end up in jobsite dumpsters. Everything under the sun gets thrown in there due to the fact that these dumpsters are unsecured, and viewed by some as free disposal options. I have had sub-contractors bring their household trash and discard it in my dumpsters. Someone years ago dumped about 100 pounds of old lettuce in one of my dumpsters in the middle of the summer, that smelled so bad, I had the dumpster company comes and remove it early. No one can ABSOLUTLY tell me that NO FOOD will be allowed in this material, that is impossible and naive for anyone to assume that. As a pilot, I worry that we are giving Nashville the wrong image, from the air, one can see all over this beautiful city. I do not think we want our first and last image to be a HUGE pile of waste. I have flown in potential customers into Nashville, and I would be embarrassed to highlight Nashville, with open-air dump sites all over this city. I am all for Nashville to be the "greenest city in the south", but this is not the way to get there. This kind of recycling is done all over the country "indoors", why does Nashville need to do this outdoors? Google it yourself: indoor construction recycling learn the facts and lets make an intelligent decision and vote to oppose this legislation.