Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron has cast vision with a price of more than half a billion dollars to address the community’s solid waste needs, including the production of jet fuel and repurposing uneaten food for the indigent population.

Ketron made the proposal Tuesday night to the County Commission’s Public Works & Planning Committee meeting.

The mayor said he does not want to place that entire debt on county taxpayers and mentioned the need to form public-private partnerships. The committee asked county staff to present a draft request in 45 days.

The committee members said they are still open to other options, including the possibility of burning waste to generate electricity to sell to commercial users in La Vergne.

The $530.3 million-plus price tag would combine the use of services that turn waste into jet fuel and compost and provide recycling services. It also accounts for the loss of revenue the county receives from the operation of Middle Point Landfill.

The $530.3 million cost breakdown, according to the mayor’s presentation, is: tipping fee costs, $2.6 million; loss of revenue from the landfill, $1 million; jet fuel conversion site, $450 million; composting, $36 million; and recycling, $35 million.

Those are start-up costs and do not include annual operating costs. Jet fuel production would cost $2 million per year; composting would cost $36 million per year; and recycling would cost $2 million annually.

The estimates are based on estimates that different private companies have provided in presentations on their waste management services.

Ketron said he would like to divert uneaten but edible food into a charitable concept called food rescue, saying that 40 percent of landfill material comes from food waste. Rutherford County’s high schools have culinary programs taught by retired chefs and could prepare the food for the needy, he said.

On average, 10 percent of solid waste cannot be repurposed and would still have to be dumped, Ketron said.

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