Recycling Revolution

With over 11 million visitors a year, tourism is big business for Sevier County, Tennessee, famously home to Dollywood and the Smoky Mountains National Park.

But one thing you won’t see at these locations is recycling bins—but not because they don’t recycle.

Sevier county actually diverts 70% of their waste from landfills with a special ‘solid waste’ composting plant, and it’s one of only 12 in the world.

About 100,000 tons of trash and sewage pass through the plant every year, mostly generated by tourism.

The majority of this, is mixed with biosolids and rotated in drums for three days, where aerobic processes break it down.

Large chunks of plastic and metal are sifted out and sent to the landfill, while the remainder is laid out in long piles and turned for several weeks, before being sifted a final time.

The result is ‘Grade A compost’ and it is free to local farmers and residents, turning mountains of trash into mountains of gold—more than 70,000 tons of it a year.

Sevier County is the most efficient composting site in the United States, keeping the Smoky Mountains and Dollywood beautiful while setting a beautiful example for the rest of us.