Tennessee listed among the trashiest states

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Accumulated litter lines an embankment at the corner of South Moore Road and North Terrace in 2021.

The average American produces 1,704 pounds of garbage per year, roughly three times the global average, according to the research firm Verisk Maplecroft.

Although some of that refuse is recycled, most ends up in landfills, incinerators or on roadsides and public places.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, the amount of trash produced in the United States increases by an estimated 25% -- generating an extra 1 million tons of garbage every week during the holiday period.

Amid the most wasteful time of the year, the website LawnStarter ranked all states on how they manage waste and listed Tennessee as the trashiest state in the South and the fifth worst state in the country for trash.

As an online platform for mowing, LawnStarter also conducts its own research, and the trash study compared the 50 states based on their waste-reducing policies, infrastructure, waste production and recycling rates. For public policies on promoting recycling, banning plastic bags and encouraging container reuse, Tennessee ranked as the second worst state behind only Arizona, according to the LawnStarter study.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation spends more than $23 million a year to clean up trash along its roads and highways and campaigns to avoid littering with its "Nobody Trashes Tennessee" campaign. But TDOT estimates there are still more than 100 million pieces of litter on Tennessee state roadways at most any time of the year.

According to Lawnstarter, the worst states for trash are:

1. Alaska

2. Nevada

3. Montana

4. Arizona

5. Tennessee

Source: LawnStarter study based on states' waste-reducing polices, infrastructure, waste production and recycling rates. The best-rated states, in order, were Connecticut, California and Vermont. Alabama ranked as the 20th best state and Georgia was rated about average, placing 26th among the 50 states.

-- Compiled by Dave Flessner