On August 26, 2021, Becky Caldwell, Executive Director of Tennessee Recycling Coalition, delivered an address at the Annual Recycler of the Year Awards dinner presented by Tennessee Recycling Coalition (TRC). Each year TRC honors the most dedicated and successful individuals and organizations working to advance recycling in our State.
This year, the Chester County High School/Tennessee College of Applied Technology won K-12 Recycler of the Year.
Chester County High School/Tennessee College of Applied Technology dually enrolled Welding Technology students and Instructor Derick Gibbs have partnered with Chester County Solid Waste Department to collect recycled or reclaimed metal items from residents to create unique sculptures since 2017. The annual Recycled Sculpture Project is a program that promotes recycling while advancing students’ technical skills and providing a platform to showcase their skills to the public.
For the 2020/2021 school year, approximately 50 Welding Technology students and Gibbs spent over four months of class time collectively creating two large sculptures dedicated to community residents. One of students’ works of art, titled “Pipe Dreams Come True,” was installed at the City of Henderson’s Sue Shelton White Park in May 2021. The additional sculpture was donated to the Henderson/Chester County Chamber of Commerce to be placed in an online auction benefiting the Chester County Imagination Library.
More than 27 tons of metal materials have been recycled exclusively for the Recycled Sculpture Project since 2017, with 11 tons of metal materials recycled in 2020.
“I am proud of the talented and hard working students that participated in the sculpture creations that resulted in us being named Tennessee Recycler of the Year, from the Tennessee Recycling Coalition” Gibbs said. “My students and I would like to thank everyone involved in us being recognized for this award. We are grateful for the opportunities that Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Crump, Chester County School Board and Chester County Solid Waste gives us continually. Our Welding Technology Program will continually strive to improve, so that we provide highly skilled workers for our community.”
Other recycler of the year awards are as follows:
The Bailey Company – 2021 Business Recycler of the Year – The Bailey Company is a woman-owned, zero waste, third generation family forklift dealership and the first USGBC True Zero Waste Certification business in the state of Tennessee. The Bailey Company holds the highest zero waste certification at the platinum level. The Bailey Company has successfully operated without trash containers or dumpsters since February 2018 and created a green team to set and sustain company-wide environmental goals, which played a large role in the achievement of being the first zero waste certified business in TN. The Green team implemented a multi-faceted reuse and recycle stream system for all their employees.
The Bailey Company actively participates in a repurchase/trade-in program for forklifts and batteries. Since 2017, Bailey Company has given back over two million pounds of batteries and trucks that have been reused and recycled. The Bailey Company invests in the environmental non-profit community in many ways and is a leader in the community for supporting and facilitating zero waste conversations and innovation.
Turnip Green Creative Reuse – 2021 Innovator of the Year – Turnip Green Creative Reuse (TGCR) diverts materials from the landfill and redirects them in to the Hands Of artists, teachers, students, and other creative community members. Turnip Green lives this mission through four areas of service green galleries, creative reuse centers, education outreach, and open studios. Since 2014, Turnip Green has collected over 960,000 pounds of materials and reconnected those materials to creatives in need.
The COVID-19 crisis allowed Turnip Green to come up with creative ways to serve our community while still making an environmental impact. One of their most impactful solutions was the distribution of creativity kits to our community.
The Turnip S.E.A.T. Sustainability, Education, Arts, Transformation is a project with Southwest Airlines repurposing 13,200 old seat covers per year to be turned into free creative art kits for our community.
Cumberland County – 2021 Government Recycler of the Year – Cumberland County has been running a very successful recycling program for over 20 years. They recycle over 3,000 plus tons a year and have 15 convenience centers. Cumberland County partners with E-cyclers out of Knoxville to recycle over 25 tons of electronic waste every year. The department takes pride in their recycling program knowing they are diverting materials from the landfill. Cumberland County recycles used motor oil and reuses it to heat their recycling center. Cumberland County also educates residents on how to recycle wire fencing, clothing, fluorescent light bulbs, latex paint, wood pallets, TVS, and glass correctly. Cumberland County Solid Waste partners with an industrial cylinder recycling company to collect and recycle propane cylinders correctly.
Nancy Zion – 2021 Tom Hattle Memorial Award – Nancy Zion’s efforts as a leader were to upgrade the community convenience center infrastructure and add compactors for recycling as their community experienced 58% population growth over the past five years. These changes allowed for more efficient collection with a reduction in operating expenses all during a time when other communities were cancelling recycling services because it just wasn’t working.
Zion has been part of the solid waste industry for more than 20 years. She is certified in Integrated Solid Waste Management, Recycling Management Systems and maintain SWANA certification as a Manager of Landfill Operations.
She served two terms as the President of TNSWANA and was a key contributor in establishing the Tennessee Training Academy which partnered with our Tennessee Recycling Coalition to host the Integrated Solid Waste Management course earlier this week.
She received the Goodwill Donor Partner of the Year award in 2020. She was the first female recipient of the Tennessee Solid Waste Director’s Association, Director of the Year Award, in 2020.
In her own words, the most rewarding part of her role as the Williamson County Solid Waste Director is, “working with other solid waste professionals to look for solutions and share successes.”