Polk officials put on a televised work session Friday to try to respond to frequent, recurring criticisms of its new curbside recycling program that began Oct. 1.
The criticisms came after county officials decided to stop accepting glass and most kinds of plastic food and beverage containers because at the moment no one wants the stuff. And, even if Polk agreed to continue to accept these materials for public relations purposes, the material would still end up in the landfill and diminish the value of everything else in the recycling piles at the processing centers.
This reflects changes in world markets for plastic waste and the fact that U.S. entrepreneurs appear much less interested than their European counterparts in glass recycling.
There are two main causes for the public criticism of the changes.
One is the belief that everything can and should be recycled, which is false.
The other is the poor communication with the public about what’s acceptable and not acceptable. For instance, at Friday’s meeting was the first public acknowledgement that magazines should not be put in recycling carts even though the county’s web site said all paper products free of food contamination are accepted.
Meanwhile, Polk officials learned state officials are planning to back off of their 75 percent recycling rate goal, but what metric will replace it was not announced.