Thursday, October 8, 2009

Florida Wants to Increase Recycling or Do They?

The Orlando Sentinel gives us a one-sided report on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) goal of tripling the state's recycling rate to 75%. A preliminary report from DEP shows that it recognizes some of the components necessary for a better program such as:

• Change how people think about waste and recycling by way of education and outreach.

• Enhance who recycles by placing more focus on the commercial and multi-family sectors. • Change the pattern of final waste disposition by decreasing the amount of waste going to landfills.
• Establish sufficient funding sources to assist local governments and keep a reporting system in place.
• Help develop markets to make increased recycling a sustainable process.
• Try innovative concepts such as “Pay As You Throw” and a bottle bill.
• Most importantly, recognize that all of this will take time!

While this is encouraging, nothing is new nor has not been tried before. There is pending legislation the essentially changes the definition of recycling which is found here. FL statues 403.7032 (2) states "However, any solid waste used for the production of renewable energy shall count toward the long-term recycling goal as set forth in this section."

Broward, Dade, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Lee and Bay counties are preparing the "Mission Complete" banners. These counties rely heavily on waste-to-energy facilities to dispose of nonrecycled materials. Four of Florida's top six metro areas would have to take little or no action.

Waste-to-energy is much more desirable than landfilling. Its emissions are highly regulated. The fuel is domestic and never ending. Still, too many materials get disposed of this way when there are markets and uses for them.

A good part of the proposed legislation is that counties would be required to develop plans to compost between 5 and 10% of the counties waste.

The heat and humidity in Florida makes it perfect for composting. Its a travesty that more work has been not done in this area. Backyard composting is especially easy to implement. There is more yard waste in Florida than anyone knows what to do with. What kind of mulch are you buying? What is your local government purchasing and how much are they paying?

Only Plantation in Broward runs a program where yard waste from residents is converted into mulch used by city crews. Residents pay a small fee to dispose and the City saves on mulch purchases. They also provide free mulch to the community.

Here are some our ideas for successful programs:

  • Have dedicated recycling/solid waste professionals to implement programs
  • Reinvest savings and revenue from recycling programs into new programs and education-like a business would.
  • Have containers that are unique and distinguishable from garbage cans
  • Make recycling a business practice-it is what you business does for savings, the earth, and PR
  • Governments should implement extensive recycled-content programs-strong markets mean strong revenues
  • Government should coordinate competitive bids to provide recycling services to business-they already do this through their exclusive garbage collection
  • Educate, educated, educate-you know what Coke is all about and they advertise constantly
  • Remove the financial incentives for not encouraging business recycling through fees payed based on the volume of garbage collected.
  • Implement residential pay-as-you-throw programs.
There are many more. If you are looking for more information from our experts, contact us at Trash to Treasure.

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