Florida has goal of 75 percent recycling by 2020; Indian River County is at 66 percent, programs planned

By Paul Ploumis

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - Single-stream recycling is up again in the county, with 5,766 tons of reusable materials staying out of landfills between January and March.

Susan Flak, recycling coordinator for the Solid Waste Disposal District, said the recycling rate for the county is estimated to be 66 percent for 2018, up from 64 percent in 2017.

That’s still short of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s interim recycling rate goal of 70 percent for Indian River County by Dec. 31, 2018.

Overall, Florida has set a 75 percent goal for recycling by 2020, according to Solid Waste Disposal District Managing Director Himanshu Mehta.

“When they combine the recycling rates for all of the counties, they want to get to 75 percent,” said Mehta. “And when 2020 comes, the Legislature will get a status report from DEP and see where things stand. They may have to come up with some more realistic goals.”

Indian River County offered several new recycling opportunities during the second quarter of 2018.

A winter Electronics and Hazardous Waste recycling day on Jan. 26 at the North County pool brought in 155 cars and recycled 4,122 pounds of electronics, as well as paint cans, propane tanks, pesticides and other household hazardous waste.

A program sponsored by America’s Plastic Makers has put loose plastic film receptacles at the county’s five customer convenience centers and the main county landfill.

In the first month, about 446 pounds of loose plastic bags and film were recycled from these locations. Commercial businesses including Marsh Landing Restaurant, the Walking Tree Brewery and Coastal Van Lines are all using plastic film receptacles donated by the Rotary Club of Vero Beach.

Despite recent news reports that China is no longer accepting recycling materials from the United States, Mehta said the county’s recycler, Tropical Recycling in Fort Pierce, is expanding their operations, adding staff and new equipment.

“At this time, our processor has continued to take material from Indian River County,” said Mehta. “They haven’t raised an alarm or said they are having any problems with our recycling.”

Mehta said for many years, China had problems accepting materials for recycling because some of the material was contaminated. About one-third of materials picked up for recycling is contaminated and has to be taken to a landfill instead. Greasy pizza boxes, food containers, coffee cups are not recyclable. Neither is coated paper such as the kind used for pet food.

“Eventually they said enough is enough,” said Mehta. “But there is a push to find new markets and companies are focused on producing a better product that an end-user can use. But it is still very challenging.”

Next recycling event

What: Summer Electronics and Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Event
Who: Sponsored by Indian River County Solid Waste Disposal District
When: June 1, 9 a.m. to noon
Where: Intergenerational Recreation Center, 1590 9th St. S.W., Vero Beach
Why: Recycle old computers, monitors, paint cans, household cleaning, chemicals and more. Open to IRC residents only
Info: http://www.ircrecycles.com or call 772-770-5112

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