SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the busy season for the garbage business. As Black Friday shopping begins, Tom Leonard, general manager of Sevier Solid Waste, Inc. shared ways the public can reduce the amount of waste that goes into the landfill this holiday season.
SSW sees an average of 430 tons of garbage dumped at their site every day. That’s 15% more than the daily average last year. While it’s a sign of a thriving tourism industry, Leonard explained it’s difficult to keep up. It’s a task that’s going to become more challenging in the weeks ahead.
We met at the site of their class one landfill, meant for everyday trash. While they may seem abundant, Leonard estimated there are between 15-20 class one landfills throughout the state.
“When I started in this business 25 years ago, there were probably 75 to 100,” he said.
Their class one is filling up faster every day. As more families are choosing to celebrate the holidays in the mountains, Leonard estimated volume to spike more than 20% immediately following Thanksgiving and Black Friday and more than 25% around Christmas.
“The faster you fill it up the more we all have to try to figure out a solution, which is either build another one in someone else’s backyard or you’re looking at hauling it to one maybe 50, 100, or 200 miles away,” he added.
It’s why he’s asking locals and visitors to avoid buying what they don’t need, to use reusable bottles, dishes, and bags, and to recycle what they can.
“All those things keep stuff out of the landfill,” he said. “We definitely have to think about how we’re going to change our behavior when it comes to waste, because otherwise, we’re going to end up with no place to put it or having to try to haul it further and further away at a bigger and bigger cost.”
He also encouraged those in town celebrating Thanksgiving to consider buying from a local farmer’s market, to reduce waste, support local farmers, and enjoy the benefits of farm-to-table products.
“It’s not just the garbage man’s problem. It’s everybody’s problem. Maybe we can think of that as we go through the holidays,” he said.
SSW composts a lot of the garbage dumped at their site; however, because of the added demand surrounding the holidays, a lot of it is put in the landfill.