Fewer Than Third of Households Recycling

We now have a better handle on the recycling habits of residents in unincorporated Polk County.

County officials announced that about 43,000 recycling carts are being delivered in response to the 140,000 cards mailed in March asking residents whether they wanted a cart for curbside recycling.

That move made sense since the carts are more expensive than the bins and there was no sense in wasting money delivering an unwanted cart to anyone. It also reduced the chance that residents would use their recycling cart as a garbage cart. This has been a problem in other counties.

That’s a rate of less than a third, which offers an opportunity for Polk officials—if they choose to do so—to target areas of the county to increase the recycling rate. Polk’s recycling rate is one of the worst in the state, at least based on totals reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Ana Wood, Polk’s director of waste and recycling, responds that the figures local officials turn in are not audited. That means they can claim anything they want and no one checks. That goes for Polk County, too.

One unknown factor will be how the recycling rate will be affected by the new rules that were not in place when the cards went out last spring.

Although it had been no secret that glass would no longer be accepted, the limits on plastic flew in under the radar. As I understand it, only a couple of kinds of plastic containers—some milk and juice jugs—will be accepted.

Water bottles, fruit and vegetable containers, butter containers, plastic mouthwash or baby powder containers, yogurt containers and a whole bunch of other plastic stuff that many of us have recycled in the past will no longer be accepted.

Wood also said if cameras in the recycling trucks detect chronic flouting of the recycling guidelines, the hauler will repossess your cart.

Stay tuned, this could be interesting.

Posted in Group Conservation Issues.