RECYCLING IN THE CITY OF CLEARWATER
…WASTE NOT…WANT NOT…
Everything and the kitchen sink
By Joy Taylor
I have been approached by numerous residents asking why the City of Clearwater does not accept the majority of recyclables that New York City does, and NYC has over 8 million residents and their recyclable list is endless, but here in Clearwater, not so much.
I met with Kattrina Dowd, a recycling specialist at the Solid Waste Department of Clearwater. Kattrina is very concerned, knowledgeable and very passionate about recycling. The continuation of filling up our landfills is not an option for Kattrina or the City of Clearwater.
Cut right to the chase…the topic begs the question…why isn't everything recyclable. The main reason the Solid Waste Department does not accept the same plethora of recyclables that New York City does is simply because there are no resources within close proximity, making the cost to ship them prohibitive.
Congress and the Senate should be considering laws at the State and Federal level to stop the manufacturers at the inception of packaging to cease production and purchasing of any products that are not entirely recyclable, or at the very least to ensure they are all the same type of plastic, so all packaging may be recycled. For instance, it was not too many years ago that the State and Federal laws changed the type of automobile emissions they would allow. Why not enact a law for our packaging materials?
Kattrina stated that the State is presently working on reaching a goal of recycling 75% of all recyclables by the year 2020. She added, "although this will be a huge task for all of us in Florida, it can and will be done. I also believe that we still need policy and infrastructure to make it a lasting reality." At present the City of Clearwater is at 30%!
Recycling may, at one time have been a tree-hugging, liberal thought in the beginning of the greening of the planet, but now it is necessity! Recycling should not be an option, but a law. Most larger states, such as New York and California, do have laws in place regarding recycling which are strictly enforced and include stiff fines. If those states can implement recycling laws, why can't Florida? People are concerned each and every day about their escalating water bills, electric bills and food bills, sans their salaries being raised, but if we do not become proactive about recycling, we will eventually have no room to water, or power to light our way in the world.
The pace of change in business gets faster every day, fueled by new technology, new ways of communicating and new ways of doing business. Whatever your business, you need to be constantly looking forward to what's coming next. And working on cutting-edge solutions to stay ahead of the competition, but at the same time not losing sight of the prize at the end of the rainbow. Start with simple recycling packaging that makes sense for our environment. There is an ancient Native American saying, "You do inherit the earth from your ancestors you borrow it from your children."
Kattrina took me for a ride in a golf cart around the facility, which is on eleven acres, and I was impressed by the strides they are taking to do their best with the funds and resources available. There is even a drop off area where you can recycle, among many other items, cooking oil!
The local company that picks up the cooking oil from the facility is FCS, Inc. I recently spoke with Michelle Helms, one of the owners of FCS who explained that they actually just "clean" the cooking oil, and then they resell it to companies that convert it into Diesel fuel! Now that's Cool Fuel!
In light of the Gulf oil spill, and the many other obvious issues with importing oil, don't you think that finding alternative and recyclable solutions to fuel would eventually change our dependency on foreign oil, and stop the destruction of our planet with off-shore drilling? Just a thought.
Until such time as we are at 75%, the following are acceptable recyclables in the city of Clearwater:
The drop off center is located at 1701 N. Hercules Ave., Clearwater, and accepts the above listed items as well as the following:
Residents are also inquiring as to why glass was taken off of the recycling list seven years ago. Kattrina mentioned that it was due to the fact that the only two plants that recycle glass in Florida are located in Sarasota and Jacksonville. Paying for fuel (including driver) to transport the glass, and disposal of the glass became prohibitive. We need more markets in the State, preferably closer in proximity in order to make glass feasible to recycle. But with all this in mind, the City of Clearwater is hoping to put glass back among the recyclables, and possibly purchase a machine to recycle the glass at the Clearwater facility.
The Clearwater facility receives recyclables from Clearwater, Dunedin, Belleair, Oldsmar Gulfport, Safety Harbor, Largo, and Indian Rocks Beach, where the recyclables are processed and then resold straight to manufacturers thus giving back profits to the towns listed above. The City of Clearwater recycles approximately 770 tons a month, with an average gross revenue of over $88,000, which varies month-to-month depending on market prices.
Not all plastics are created equal. Why is it that some of the plastic packaging, although marked #1 and #2 are not always acceptable? The fact is that there are various types of plastic, and they melt at different temperatures, which may cause the machines to clog while going through the melting process.
Waste Management Recycle America, the company that recycles the plastic, actually melts only plastic bottles to which it then creates new plastic bottles…giving much weight to the saying "something old is new again."
Another form of recycling…incinerator recycling which does not emit dangerous or toxic fumes as it goes thru a scrubbing and cleaning process. The end result is that the incineration recycling ultimately heats over 40,000 homes! Now that's what I call "off the grid!"
The Department of Waste and Recycling is always looking for new ways to improve and streamline their programs. They meet every other month with the Pinellas Partners in Recycling, a subcommittee of the technical management committee for Pinellas County. It is a place where all the recycling coordinators for all the cities in Pinellas County may meet to discuss the issues to improve recycling not only in our county, but also for the entire State of Florida.
Question: is it possible for all the Central/Middle Florida Waste/Recycling programs to come together to create one facility to do the processing themselves? That question created other questions…i.e., who then will run the facility, who will haul the recyclables to the facility, who will pay for it, where is it going to be located. All counties would have to agree on all of these issues. Not an easy task, but the county is nevertheless looking into doing just that, including a centrally located facility. In the meantime, they are still seeking out private haulers.
The Department of Environmental Protection is who decides what will be included under the umbrella of the 75% of recyclables. A question that still needs to be answered: why are we still throwing valuable resources in the garbage that can be recycled, remade, resold and re-purposed?
Kattrina added, "we cannot stress enough that recycling is market driven. Clearwater wants to be able to recycle as much as possible, but it has to be feasible and fiscally responsible for us to be able to do it."
For more detailed information on where and what you may recycle and their drop off location and hours, please visit their website at http://www.clearwater-fl.com/gov/depts/solid_waste.
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