Florida can increase its recycling rate to 75 percent within 10 years by requiring more recycling at construction-waste landfills, implementing innovative new programs to reduce waste disposal and by counting waste-burning as recycling, according to a state report issued today.
The Legislature in 2008 established a statewide recycling goal of 75 percent by 2020. The goal, included in a comprehensive energy bill in 2008, also required that DEP produce a report by Jan. 1, 2010, with recommendations on achieving the goal.
Florida now recycles 28 percent of its waste statewide. The Legislature in 1988 set a 30-percent recycling goal for the state’s larger cities and counties.
In its 35-page report issued today, DEP recommends that the new 75-percent goal be applied to counties with populations of more than 100,000 and cities with more than 50,000 people.
One of the largest gains in recycling could be controversial: Counting the 12 percent of waste burned each year in waste incinerators. That 12-percent has not been counted as recycling in the past but is allowed under the law setting the new recycling goal, DEP said.
The department also recommends that construction-waste landfills remove recyclable materials before they are buried. The statewide recycling rate could increase by 12 percent with increased recycling at construction-waste sites, the report says.
“The 75-percent recycling goal is the highest of any state,” DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole said in a department news release. “It will be a challenge to achieve, but it can be reached through partnerships among state government, local governments, trade organizations, schools, businesses and industries as well as the people of Florida.”
“Pay as you Throw” programs also could increase recycling statewide by 10 percent, according to the report. Such programs allow customers to pay less if they throw away less and have been used in Plantation and in Gainesville, where recycling increased by 25 percent in its first year.
Another 10 percent statewide increase could come from having more “single-stream recycling” facilities where recyclable materials are pulled out of the trash. Such facilities exist now in Orange County, Pembroke Pines and in Collier County, which increased recycling by 55 percent in 2005.
DEP also recommends requiring commercial recycling in large counties and cities to include apartments and condominiums and institutions including schools and hospitals. The department also recommends creating a recycling grants or loan program to help local governments reach the 75-percent goal.
Several waste industry representatives who attended DEP workshops on the recommendations declined to comment today because they had not yet read the report.
To view the report, go on the Web to www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/recyclinggoal75 .
(Photo courtesy of Waste Management Inc. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)