Tullahoma’s businesses are looking a little greener, thanks to Alderman Robin Dunn and the Go Green! Tullahoma group.

Dunn and the Go Green council have been contacting businesses over the last two months in order to get them involved in the city’s cardboard recycling program, and they’ve seen some success in their efforts.

Dunn told The News the group was able to get 20 Tullahoma businesses signed up for the recycling program and save on garbage collection costs.

The increase in recycling participation has even led the public works department to purchase a new recycling baler, according to city officials.

Dunn said the push to get more businesses recycling comes from her past experiences as a teacher with Tullahoma City Schools.

“I’ve been in education for so long that I’ve seen there are kids who are the top echelon … it doesn’t matter what you’re talking about [because] they will go, ‘Hey, I’m all in,’ and they’re going to take a project and just run with it,” she said. “Then there’s other guys that are going to need that invitation … that’s when you get the buy-in.”

Adults operate the same way, she said, and there are several businesses in town who have been recycling since they began operations. There are also businesses who perhaps need that invitation to get involved, she said, so she wants to spread the word about the benefits of recycling.

“I want people to feel invited,” she said.

The city currently offers commercial cardboard recycling at no cost to businesses, which can save both businesses and the city money.

“Cardboard’s a fairly easy one to recycle,” she said, and it helps cut down the amount of waste the city dumps into landfills.

According to Dunn, the city can save anywhere around $20 to $25 per ton by having businesses recycle their cardboard.

“It definitely is one of those things [where] it pays,” she said.

Additionally, Dunn said, increased recycling can help keep taxes lower for Tullahoma citizens.

“The more people who are participating in this, the more it’s able to self-sustain,” Dunn said of the recycling program.


New baler

According to public works officials, the department will need to purchase a new recycling baler in order to keep up with the increased participation in the city’s recycling program.

John West, the public works superintendent, told the Tullahoma Board of Mayor and Aldermen at its Monday night meeting that the new baler will be used to help take the strain off the main, large baler used by public works for recycling cardboard and newsprint.

“It’s running all day long,” West said of the current baler. Because the baler is continuously running and switching between baling cardboard and newsprint, the likelihood for breakage is higher.

In fact, West said, the baler did experience a malfunction earlier this year, causing it to be out of commission for about a week.

“We did have a cylinder go down on the cardboard baler several months back, which put the baler out of service,” he said.

The new baler, he said, would allow the current large baler to rest a bit, decreasing the chance of it breaking down completely, which would force public works to take any cardboard recyclables to a landfill in order to clear out the recycling center.

“Hopefully the new baler is going to allow us to relax the first baler quite a bit and take same of the wear off of it,” West said.

Once the first baler has had a rest period, he added, the new baler would be used mainly for newsprint, allowing the first baler to be a dedicated cardboard baler full time.

“It’s really a question of redundancy and capacity,” West told the board.

The board approved the purchase of the new baler, which came with a total price tag of $70,693.95.


Culture change

In getting more businesses to recycle cardboard, Dunn hopes she’ll be able to persuade the Tullahoma community at large to buy into the recycling program completely.

“I just really want more people to make this more of a culture,” she said, “where it’s not, ‘Do you recycle,’ but ‘Where is your recycling?’”

By getting more people invested in the recycling program, she said, the better the community at large will be.

“The more people we get to do this, the better off we all are,” she said.

As of Monday, Dunn said she had 20 businesses signed up for cardboard recycling and had plans to start heading around town to residents with extra garbage cans.

“Tomorrow I’m starting to door-knock with residents who have an extra cart,” she told The News Monday night.


Recycling in Tullahoma

The city offers curbside recycling to residents on the same day as their garbage pickup. Curbside pickup will take residents’ plastics, aluminum cans, tin and bi-metal food cans, newsprint and corrugated cardboard. Public works requests anyone participating in curbside recycling please sort all recyclables per category before placing them at the curb. All caps and lids should be removed, and all cardboard should be broken down.

Residents who want to recycle glass must bring it to the recycling center, located at 942 Maplewood Ave.

Other recyclables that can be brought to the recycling center include cardboard, plastics #1 through #7, metals, aluminum and tin cans, used motor oil, transmission fluids, antifreeze, fluorescent bulbs, water-based paint and newsprint.

To find out more about the city’s recycling program, visit or call the public works department at 454-1768.

The Tullahoma Recycling Center is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Erin McCullough may be reached at