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Date of Issue: December 31, 2008

Commissioner pursues expanded recycling

Holmes Beach City Commissioner Pat Morton will ring in the new year with a new resolve to promote the three Rs — reduce, reuse and recycle.

Morton, whom The Islander polled along with other local officials for new year’s resolutions, said he is lobbying lawmakers on a proposed statewide mandatory recycling program.

Morton also said he wants to increase recycling at the residential level, especially at condominiums.

Each of the Island communities has a recycling program. Anna Maria and Holmes Beach contract with Waste Management Inc. for both recycling and waste removal. Bradenton Beach operates its own recycling program in concert with its garbage collection.

“We collect approximately 250,000 pounds of recyclable material per year,” said Char Patterson, deputy director of Bradenton Beach public works department.

In Anna Maria, about 800 tons of recyclable material is collected a year.

In Holmes Beach, Waste Management collects about 1,550 tons a year.

The recycled amounts are tracked because recyclables are a commodity.

Recycling, though a buzzword in recent years, is far from a new concept. In the 1920s, 70 percent of U.S. cities ran recycling programs. During World War II, industry recycled and reused about 25 percent of the waste stream, according to the National Recycling Coalition.

Recycling fell off after WWII — down to 7.7 percent of the waste stream in 1960. With a renewed interest in the environment and a dwindling capacity in landfills, recycling nationwide began to pick up, going from 17 percent in 1990 to 33 percent today.

Officials in all three Island cities said they expect to see the amount of recyclables to go up in the coming years.

“Mostly due to the growing awareness of the environment,” Patterson said.

Morton would like the state to take action to ensure recycling numbers go ever higher.

“You see a lot more of the blue containers out and in use than last year,” Morton said. “But there could be more.”

Morton plans to lobby legislators on a mandatory recycling program in the state, the details of which still must be worked out. He said other states are ahead in part because of mandatory requirements to reduce waste and promote recycling.

The commissioner is promoting reduction and recycle principles locally by encouraging his church, Crosspointe Fellowship, to follow greener practices.

“So much of the work is about awareness,” said Morton, who also wants to increase participation among condominium associations.

“It’s a good thing to do,” he said.

According to Waste Management, recycling also makes economic sense — a condominium that pays for three garbage collections per week could reduce its collections to one or two, with the addition of a recycling pickup.

Recycling from all three Island cities is trucked to the same location — Recycle America, a materials recovery facility near U.S. 301 on the Manatee/Sarasota county border that is owned and operated by Waste Management.

Recycle America takes in recyclables from Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and southern Hillsborough counties.

 

In the bin…

  • Plastic bottles and containers that are rinsed, with caps removed. No shopping bags or newspaper bags, which can be recycled at many grocery stores.
  • Glass containers in all sizes and colors that are rinsed, with caps removed.
  • Metals such as aluminum, steel and tin that are rinsed, with caps removed.

Separate but still recyclable

  • Newspaper should not be mixed with plastics, glass or metals but instead packaged in a paper bag, bundled or placed in a separate bin. Other recyclable paper includes shopping inserts, mail, office paper and plastic window envelopes.

Not recyclable

  • Fiberboard, brown bags, paper towels, paper plates and napkins, paper cups, gift wrap, tissues or tissue paper, food wrap, pizza boxes, egg cartons and wax paper.
  • Windows, mirrors, eye glasses, ceramics, light bulbs, aerosol cans, paint cans, kitchen utensils, tools, auto parts, lawn furniture, diapers, cellophane, clothes hangers, Styrofoam, PVC, plastic ware.

Source: Waste Management Inc.