Scenic Tennessee


Our Key Issues: Litter, Recycling & Billboard Control

Scenic Tennessee focuses on critical conservation issues for the state, including litter, recycling, and signage control. We work proactively and reactively across the state to raise awareness and effect change on these matters.

Tennessee’s Litter Problem

Of all the things that threaten Tennessee’s scenic beauty, none is as universal (nor as universally deplored) as litter. Despite decades of education, thousands of cleanups and millions of tax dollars spent to address the issue, the latest reports say that more than 100 million pieces of trash remain on Tennessee’s roadways at any given time—much of which could have been readily and profitably recycled.

Since its founding in 1987, Scenic Tennessee has been advocating for fair and effective waste-reduction policies and practices that preserve scenic beauty while promoting a sustainable economy.

Such policies and practices include:

  • fees and incentives
    • refundable deposits on beverage containers
    • pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) policies that encourage recycling over landfilling
    • recycling fees on tires, lead-acid batteries, and similar special-handling items
    • adjustments in landfill tipping fees to better reflect actual costs of waste disposal
  • policies to increase recycling rates and improve recycling quality
    • dual-stream curbside recycling (as opposed to commingled single-stream)
    • curbside compost (food waste) pickup where curbside recycling exists
    • compost collection sites at county convenience centers

A Little Litter History

Littering emerged as a national issue in the years immediately following World War II. The public response to widespread littering was vehement and sustained. Here are some key moments in the nation’s and Tennessee’s litter-fighting efforts over the last 75 years,

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Pickin' Up Tennessee

Scenic Tennessee’s 2013 Pickin’ Up Tennessee project was the first music-centered litter-awareness campaign in Tennessee since the 1970s—but with an important twist, focusing on Tennessee’s scenic beauty, its rich musical heritage, and its welcoming communities.

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Billboards and Sign Control

Scenic Tennessee has taken swift action to raise awareness about billboards across the state, most recently putting the brakes on a bill in March 2022 that would have allowed outdoor advertising companies to convert standard static signs to digital screens without local jurisdictions’ consent.

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