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.