The Complete Nashville Recycling and Waste Disposal Guide
Find Nashville Recycling Centers in Your Neighborhood
Nashville is one of the most vibrant cities in the country. We’re a community of people who take risks to pursue our dreams and who work hard to make those dreams a reality. For our city to remain the vibrant life-size music box that it is, though, we need to make sure we’re not risking our environment in our pursuit of bigger and better. Nashville recycling has come a long way in recent years. The city has made a huge effort to make recycling easier and more accessible to all residents and to provide more options for safely disposing of things that can’t be recycled.
It’s because of those efforts that you can now find an alternative to the landfill for almost anything you need to get rid of. In fact, our landfills no longer accept some things like electronics and appliances, due to the harmful substances they contain. So when in doubt, let this guide serve as your one-stop resource for where and how to dispose of anything and everything in the safest and most sustainable way.
Automotive waste tends to be a pretty big waste category for any city and Nashville is no exception. This isn’t just a problem in terms of the amount of limited landfill space this type of waste takes up. One of the best things you can do for the health of our city is to ensure that you always dispose of automotive waste properly.
When tires end up in a landfill, they almost always cause problems. Instead of compressing, tires will often “float” to the top of the heap as methane gas builds up inside them, causing serious damage to landfill infrastructure. When tires are recycled, we not only save landfill space but conserve important resources.
Motor oil and other automotive fluids contain a mess of substances that are poisonous to people, animals and the environment. If these substances make their way to the landfill, they can quickly contaminate soil and groundwater. None of these items should ever be thrown in the trash, poured down a drain or mixed with each other or any other fluid.
Gasoline is a precious—and non-renewable—resource. Ideally, when you’re filling up gas cans because of a great price at the pump, you should purchase only as much as you could reasonably use within a few weeks. If you’re putting together an emergency stash for a road trip, you should only purchase one can per vehicle. This is because gas really should never be disposed of unless it’s too old to safely be used as fuel. Because gas is highly flammable, it should never be thrown out with normal household waste or mixed with other automotive fluids.
When your car battery conks out, you’re probably more concerned with installing a new one than with figuring out what to do with the old one. But that mindset is bad news for the environment, since batteries contain lead, mercury and other toxic metals. To prevent contamination, car batteries should always be recycled through an authorized recycler.
Construction & Remodeling
Completing a home improvement project benefits your family by creating a more inviting or functional living space. It also benefits your community by contributing to a safe, pleasant neighborhood with good property values. But unless you’re properly disposing of all of your construction and remodeling debris, your home improvement project could be extremely detrimental to the environment.
Metal is a major component in many of the essential items we use every day. But the mining and refining that goes into producing usable metals takes a major toll on the environment. When you recycle scrap metal, you lessen the environmental impact of using this material. Plus, you can make some extra cash in the process!
Old shingles are not hazardous to the environment but producing them requires plenty of oil and other nonrenewable resources. Since shingles are often still in useable condition, allowing them to be reused by others is a better option than allowing them to take up landfill space. Shingles can also be recycled into asphalt pavement, reducing the amount of oil necessary to produce asphalt.
A fresh coat of paint is an easy way to bring new life to a room. But if you overestimated the amount of paint it would take to do the job, you sure won’t be freshening up the local environment when you throw that excess paint out. Oil based paints contain a slew of chemicals that can quickly contaminate soil and ground water if they’re not disposed of properly.
Used carpet is non-toxic, but that doesn’t mean that a landfill is the best place for it. If you’re tearing up your carpet because you’re ready for a new style and not because it’s stained or damaged, that carpet could be just what another homeowner is looking for. Even if your carpet isn’t in good enough shape for donation, there are still recycling opportunities that should be considered before tossing it in the trash.
Electronics & Appliances
Today, technology changes and becomes obsolete faster than ever before. This means that electronic waste is quickly becoming the largest waste category in cities throughout the nation. Aside from the sheer amount of landfill space it takes up, e-waste contains various metals and other materials that are toxic to the environment. As technology continues to advance, it’s more important than ever to keep electronics out of the landfill.
Computers are composed of a huge amount of valuable resources, including metals, plastics, and the fossil fuels required to produce those materials. To lessen the environmental toll caused by obtaining those resources, it’s essential to make sure computers are recycled or else properly disposed of.
Televisions are a jackpot of materials that are best kept out of landfills. Older TVs especially are made with components that contain lead, cadmium and other toxic heavy metals. In the landfill, these metals can easily poison soil and water. Luckily, Nashville has plenty of options for keeping TVs out of the trash.
Refrigerators are composed of metals and plastics that require massive quantities of fossil fuels to produce. On top of that, the coolant necessary for refrigerators and freezers to function is extremely toxic. Always ensure that your fridge is properly recycled or disposed of.
Appliances like ovens, washing machines and microwaves are a nightmare for landfills. First, they take up space that would be better reserved for biodegradable substances. More importantly, just about all appliances are made from significant amounts of plastics and various metals. Due to the massive quantities of fossil fuels it takes to produce or acquire those substances, appliances should be recycled whenever possible.
“Household Items" is a broad category that includes many different types of materials. It’s also the category you deal with the most out of everything on this list. It’s also the category where it’s easiest to overlook alternatives to the landfill. After all, when you need to get rid of something large or obviously hazardous, you’re automatically prompted to look for other options. But the odds-and-ends that fill our junk drawers and cover our closet floors? It’s easy to throw them away without a second thought. But that doesn’t mean a second thought isn’t worth it. There are plenty of options for disposing of these items that don’t require using up landfill space.
Products made from paper and plastic make up a huge percentage of all landfill waste. This will likely continue to be the case for a long time, since so many of the items we view as disposable are made from these materials. From water bottles to school lunch bags, these small everyday items add up quickly. The more paper and plastic we can keep out of landfills the better.
Conserving space in landfills is incredibly important. And one way to do that is to keep mattresses out of them. Mattresses don’t compress properly in landfills because of the springs and foam inside them. This means they hog a lot of valuable landfill real estate that could be better used.
While old clothing isn’t hazardous to the environment, that doesn’t mean the trash is the best place for it. Donating old clothing leaves landfill space open for real trash, while providing an important helping hand to people in need. Just remember that clothing should only be donated when it’s still in wearable condition, with no noticeable stains, holes, or rips. After all, someone looking for clothes to wear to a job interview won’t have much success if you’re donating threadbare rags. That said, even clothes that can’t be worn can still be repurposed in other ways.
For many U.S. households, food waste accounts for a huge percentage of our trash output each week. On the one hand, food waste is probably the most acceptable substance to send to a landfill, since it will biodegrade quickly and non-toxically. On the other hand, wasted food could be put to better use in a country where so many people still go hungry. Not to mention that there alternatives to the trash even for food scraps that can’t be donated.
Unused pharmaceuticals can be hazardous to the environment if they get into the water supply. More importantly, when medicines aren’t disposed of properly they can cause serious harm to people and animals who might accidentally ingest them. Similarly, syringes, needles and sharps can spread disease or cause injury when not properly handled. Medical waste of all kinds should never be tossed in with the regular trash.
Dispose of Syringes, needles or sharps at home. Place syringes, needles or sharps inside a sturdy container with a lid, like an empty detergent or bleach bottle. Screw the lid on tightly and seal it with duct tape. Label the container with the type of waste inside, then place it in your trash. Do not use a glass or see-through plastic container. DO NOT place your container into a recycling bin.
For Everything Else...
Hopefully, this guide has provided you with Nashville recycling options for most of the junk in your trunk (and garages, sheds, closets and basements). But if you are left with some materials that just can't be recycled, you can consult this list of area landfills and transfer stations.
Southern Services Landfill
651 Amy Lynn Dr., Nashville, TN 37218
75 Trimble St., Nashville, TN 37210
700 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37210
3516 Central Pike, Hermitage, TN 37076
Waste Management Nashville-Antioch
1428 Antioch Pike, Antioch, TN 37013
La Vergne Convenience Center
300 Sand Hill Rd., La Vergne, TN 37086
Cheatham County Landfill
2791 Sams Creek Rd., Pegram, TN 37143
Sustainable Success Stories
Plenty of businesses talk the talk about committing to more eco-friendly business practices, but not many really follow through. Luckily, there are some truly innovative companies in Nashville, not just walking the sustainability line but sprinting down it full tilt.
Moving On Up to the Green Side with The Green Truck Moving Company
The Green Truck Moving Company goes the extra mile to reduce the waste and other environmental impacts associated with a move. The Green Truck powers its moving trucks with bio-diesel, gives customers the option of packing with reusable materials, recycles all of their customers’ leftover moving materials, and plants two trees after each move they complete. In short, when you work with The Green Truck, you can pat yourself on the back for the favor you’re doing the environment while somebody else handles all the hassle of moving for you!
The Hanging Gardens of Nashville: The Wonder of Southeast Green Roof
Southeast Green Roof provides an innovative solution to several problems associated with urban living. Southeast Green Roof installs green roof modules using native plants ideally suited to the environment of each individual building. With these carefully selected species in place, the building enjoys lower heating and cooling costs plus a unique and beautiful roof. Meanwhile, green roofs help take some of the burden off the city’s infrastructure by drinking up excess storm water. They also keep things cool by helping to burst the “urban heat bubble" that causes a city to be several degrees hotter than the surrounding countryside.
Green is Good for Business at Hutton Hotel
Hutton Hotel is Nashville’s greenest hot spot. From setting up shop in a disused office building, to using a laundry system that recycles and conserves heat and water, to implementing key cards that automatically turn off the lights when a guest leaves their room, Hutton Hotel is leading the eco-friendly pack in Nashville’s hospitality industry. Green principles inform everything that goes on at Hutton Hotel, in ways both large and small, proving every day that a truly sustainable business model is not just possible but profitable. If you’re looking to plan a Nashville trip with the least environmental impact this is the place for you.