NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences’ Otis L. Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville was recognized recently as the Tennessee Recycling Coalition’s “Recycler of the Year” in the Higher Education School category after recycling approximately 200,000 pounds (100 tons) of polyethylene plastic since 2010.
Each year, across Middle Tennessee an estimated 60,000 pounds of polyethylene plastic film is used to provide overwintering protection for plants. This film is removed each spring and typically discarded in landfills or illegally burned or buried. Producers have historically been hesitant to commit to recycling this plastic due to increased costs and inconvenience. To solve these problems, the NRC developed a recycling program that uses an innovative mechanical spooler—made available to nursery producers free of charge—to remove the plastic and spool it into compact rolls for cost-effective shipping.
Drawing on its connection to the Tennessee nursery industry, the NRC has had overwhelming success with this program. The program has been eliminating approximately 40,000 pounds of plastic waste per year while saving participating producers money since its inception.
According to Dr. Nick Gawel, superintendent of the NRC, the program has had a “fundamental” impact on the way the nursery industry—one already known for its “green” initiatives—operates.
“It is a great honor to be recognized for this program,” Gawel said. “TSU is proud of our partnership with the Tennessee nursery industry and the opportunity to make this industry even more green and sustainable.”
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.