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Date of Issue: February 22, 2007

Public recycling out there, but 'stealthy'

What's a wannabe visiting recycler to do on Anna Maria Island?

That question was posed by Dr. James N. Coutant. An occasional visitor to the Island, Coutant said he and friends dutifully bagged up plastic, paper and aluminum to head out to the community recycling bins at north Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach, only to find them gone.

Further research revealed that there were no mass recycling centers on the Island, he said.

Anna Maria City and Holmes Beach residents' garbage, yard waste and recycling needs are met by Waste Management, which picks up the debris curbside. Bradenton Beach has its own sanitation department to collect similar materials on a weekly basis.

"Tourists, vacationers and snowbirds who use our beaches every day of the week need a place to drop off their recyclables," Coutant wrote in a letter to The Islander.

"In this day and age when we most need to be environmentally aware, our Island communities seem to be backsliding into environmental unconsciousness. Are Anna Maria Island residents and their governing bodies so environmentally oblivious and backward that they can't insist on a service that the rest of America has been providing to visitors for many decades?" he asked.

Actually, though, Anna Maria City and Bradenton Beach do provide a "stealth" recycling service to anyone who wishes it.

Anna Maria public works director George McKay said there are bins by the Island Players theater on Pine Avenue where recyclables may be deposited. He also said he hoped that the ongoing contract negotiations with Waste Management will result in similar containers at beach-access points and other high-traffic locations for beachgoers or visitors.

Bradenton Beach public works director Tom Woodard said that there are recycling bins at the southeast corner of city hall in that city where cans, plastic, glass and newspaper can be dropped off, although he admitted it is not a highly-advertised service. Woodard also said anyone could drop off material at the public works department on Highland Avenue.

Holmes Beach public works director Joe Duennes said that city does not provide similar services, but indicated it may be something to be investigated in the future. "I'll bring it up with the mayor," he said.

Woodard added that when Bradenton Beach began the curbside recycling program, the "community bins" that Coutant referred to were removed. The bins just weren't providing much in the way of revenue, since they were contaminated with non-recycling materials - cleaned fish, for example, from the nearby boat ramp.

Coutant summed up his request by stating, "I make a plea to the permanent residents and Anna Maria city governments - for the sake of the beauty and environmental health of this Island and the world we are leaving to our children and our grandchildren - wake up, pull together and facilitate free public recycling."

Publix Super Market in Holmes Beach provides what the cities do not, however, and the bins are located outside the entry to the store.