Knoxville Recycling Coalition is a local nonprofit organization that offers recycling service and community education. We have been providing service since 1988, and we hope to continue far into the future.
Our mission is to seek sensible, environmentally sound waste management practices. The Coalition works with the public, business, government, and community groups to foster and support recycling in the Knoxville area.
The Coalition’s efforts involve running recycling programs, developing demonstration projects, and providing public education. The Coalition seeks to move waste management into a new era focused on waste reduction, reuse, recycling, composting, and the proper disposal of hazardous waste.
Compiled by David Wasserman, Founder of KRC
The year is 1988. Knoxville and Knox County have formed a partnership to build a large trash incinerator. In the original incinerator plan there is no recycling component. A group called the Alliance for Incinerator Review (AIR) is formed to oppose the incinerator. Most of AIR’s support is from the communities surrounding the planned incinerator site on Baxter Avenue, notably 4th and Gill. It was apparent that most of AIR’s support came from those opposed to the site chosen for the incinerator and not because of any ground swell for recycling, composting, and waste reduction. After the Knoxville City Council rejected the site in the summer of ’88, I saw a need for an organization to promote recycling whether the incinerator was built somewhere else or not.
Building on my experience at establishing and running Knoxville’s first multi-material recycling drop-off center behind the Knoxville Food Coop in 1985, I brought together local businesses and concerned citizens to speak as one voice under the name the Knoxville Recycling Coalition.
Early projects included entering into a contract with Knox County to run a recycling drop-off center at the Carter Convenience Center in East Knox County. This six-month pilot was a great success and showed the county that recycling drop-off centers were a very practical way to divert waste from the landfill. The county adopted this model and expanded recycling drop-off centers to all of its waste convenience centers. In 1989, Kroger’s backed a KRC proposal to place shelf labels in all of their Knoxville stores that pointed out which containers could be recycled. In 1990, KRC began an office paper recycling pick-up service that was immediately popular with area businesses and institutions such as the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Fort Sanders Hospital, and Kinko’s.
The incinerator proposal was eventually killed, but KRC continued as a voice promoting sensible waste management in the Knoxville area.
KRC started as a program of the Knoxville Food Cooperative to primarily fight a proposed waste incinerator. David Wasserman, a member of the Co-op, founded the organization as the Inter-Cooperative Action Project.
The Inter-Cooperative Action Project started first recycling drop-off center in Knoxville started behind the Co-op on Broadway. The center accepted glass, cans, plastic, and newspaper. This operation ran from 1985-1997.
KRC operated a pilot recycling program at the Carter Convenience Center in East Knox County. This effort showed that interest in recycling existed, and influenced the county to extend recycling to their other centers.
The organization officially became the Knoxville Recycling Coalition.
KRC started the Office Paper Recycling Service as a joint venture with Rock-Tenn Recycling. This service provided white paper and computer paper recycling in offices in Knoxville and the surrounding area. Two of the first customers for this service were the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. KRC continues to offer this recycling service to over 200 businesses in the area.
KRC Director David Wasserman served on the Solid Waste Task Force, which was set up by Mayor Victor Ashe to set up waste reduction goals for the city.
KRC published the Recycled Products Guide, a booklet detailing where to buy recycled-content products. KRC received grants from the National Association of Purchasing Managers (NAPM), TVA, and the City of Knoxville to produce this guide.
Beginning of KRC’s Recycling Hotline, which provided 24-hour recycling information for area citizens.
KRC helped to begin The Living Quilt Garden. This garden was an organic garden at the former World’s Fair site that was established to honor the memory of people who died from AIDS. KRC partnered with Community Shares, AIDS Response Knoxville, and South Doyle High School Green Cross Club on this project.
KRC opened a demonstration compost site on the former World’s Fair site.
KRC starts a Recycling to Build Community initiative, which was a joint venture of the Corporation for National Service and the National Recycling Coalition. KRC utilized an Americorps worker to aid this project in increase
KRC’s grassroots recycling effort.
With the help of Knox County, KRC ran a demonstration cardboard recycling program for small businesses.
KRC partnered with the National Association of Plastic Container Recyclers (NAPRCOR) to demonstrate PET plastic recycling using reverse-vending machines.
KRC began aluminum can recycling at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
KRC began aluminum can recycling service to area businesses after Ronald McDonald House dropped their aluminum can recycling program.
KRC’s website came online.
KRC converts the recycling center at the Co-op to a center specializing in hard-to-recycle items, such as Styrofoam peanuts and egg cartons.
KRC opened the Waste Exchange, a program that accepted and redistributed reusable but non-recyclable materials from local businesses. EPA funds were utilized to start this program. This program ran 1998 until 2001, when the program ended due to lack of funding.
KRC saw the creation of the now famous Purple Paper Eater, which is our purple truck that goes around town to collect paper for recycling. This big purple truck has painted eyes and teeth and is recognized all over the area as a recycling symbol.
KRC began assisting with Earth Fest, Knoxville’s Earth Day celebration.
KRC collected and submitted petitions to the Knoxville City Council for support of curbside recycling.
KRC began plastic recycling program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
KRC conducted the first Homeowner Confidential Paper Collection Event.
KRC hired its first Community Program Manager.
KRC held its open house event at the new office on Sutherland Avenue.
KRC introduced the comprehensive recycling information for Knoxville and the surrounding area found on a re-designed web site.
KRC publishes its first ever Annual Recycling Guide, which provides comprehensive recycling information for residents.
KRC introduced the newly re-designed web site which is its present manifestation.