NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A biotechnology company that makes compostable food-service ware and a nine-year-old who organizes river cleanups were among those honored at this year’s Tennessee Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Awards.
Knoxville-based Genera Energy was recognized for its partnerships with regional farmers to grow agricultural crops such as switchgrass and wheat straw, which the company then uses to make sustainable fiber.
Vice President for Business Development Sam Jackson says natural fiber-based plates, bowls, cups and take-out containers will be ready by early next year.
“So, we’re making a usable fiber out of our agricultural materials, but it’s in a much more sustainable, environmentally friendly process,” says Jackson. “And then also onsite, we’ll be manufacturing our own line of compostable food-service products, all of which will be fully compostable and fully biodegradable, really aiming at replacing polystyrene or Styrofoam products on the market today.”
The 54th Annual Conservation Achievement Awards ceremony was held in Nashville, and honored 17 individuals and businesses across the state.
Another honoree was nine-year-old Cash Daniels of Chattanooga, who organizes monthly river cleanups and is committed to reducing waste.
“Why I clean up the river is because 80% of the ocean’s plastic comes from rivers, and if we don’t clean up the ocean, it will just keep getting worse,” says Daniels. “We pull close to 3,000 pounds of trash out of the river.”
Daniels says he hopes to be a marine biologist when he grows up.
Mike Butler, CEO of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, points out that as more people move into urban areas, they are less likely to experience the state’s wildlife and natural resources.
“If you go back 40, 50 years ago, you have a lot more people that grew up on farms, and so they saw firsthand what happened if you abused land or water,” says Butler. “Now, it’s a lot more detached.”
Butler says the Federation works on public policy, youth engagement and habitat restoration.