North Port Solid Waste Implements New Recycling Program

For this JOUC3109c assignment, I had to conduct my own interview and create my own story based on something happening in my town. The topic had to have a focus in the environment, health, technology or science field. I enjoyed this assignment because it allowed me to be in control of my own story, and I was able to interview people within my city instead of watching a pre-recorded interview.

 

NORTH PORT, Fla.- North Port Solid Waste Division took “going green” to a new level when they replaced the standard blue 18-gallon recycling bins with two dark green rolling containers.

The Solid Waste Division ran a 4-month-long pilot with the totes with 2,100 homes in 2015, and saw success with the program. They introduced the program to commission and it was approved in April. Since then, the Solid Waste has distributed the containers to approximately 26,400 homes.

Frank Lama, the Solid Waste manager, explains the new recycling program and how the community can participate.

“The goal for the new recycling program is to reduce waste by using two bigger containers than the two smaller ones,” said Lama. “We have already noticed that people have been recycling more.”

“More people are willing to recycle. You give them the space, and they do it,” said Lama. “Also, they’re on wheels, so it’s a lot easier.”

The new totes, similar to the standard garbage cans, each have a tan lid and a blue lid. The tan lid collects paper products while the blue lid is for glass, plastic and cans. They come in size 32, 65, or 95-gallon containers; bigger than the old 18-gallon bins.

“I think the city would recycle more if they knew that it saves taxpayer dollars,” said Lama.

Each ton of garbage is $48, while recyclables are priced at market value. Currently, glass, plastic and cans are priced at $12 per ton while paper products are valued at $50 per ton, which are later recycled into new materials.

“We’re doing over 500 tons per recycling and if you put that into a landfill at $48, it’s not a good number,” said Lama.

While the new recycling containers have improved recycling in the city so far, there are many items that Solid Waste cannot accept. If they are found inside a tote, its contents must be disposed in a landfill.

“When you go to the landfill they have an x-ray type machine to see what is inside your truck, so you have to be careful,” said Julia Bellia, the Public Works director of the division.

Fortunately, Solid Waste has multiple resources to dispose of these materials.

Hazardous waste can be dropped off at special collection areas in Venice or at North Port City Hall during the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event, which just had an event on Saturday, March 18. The North Port Fire Department accepts medical sharps while the North Port Police Department can dispose of old medications.

In addition to saving money, the totes help keep North Port clean by reducing the amount of loose debris that the old bins produced. Also, the lids on the new totes help prevent bugs from reaching the materials inside the container.

So far, the community’s reaction has been mostly positive. “Very, very few people have complained,” said Bellia. “It’s mostly things like ‘I can’t fit this in my garage,’ or ‘I don’t want to recycle.’”

“Usually, Frank and a few others will go out to talk to them, and after that they’re okay with it,” she said. “They show them how they can rearrange things in their garage to fit them in. Also, we also have a smaller container that they can use.”

The new recycling program also runs on a new schedule, with each tote being used on alternate weeks. The schedule can be found on the inside lids of the totes.

“In 2008, we starting doing garbage on one side of the street and it took about seven months of us educating the residents which side to put it on,” said Lama. “After looking at the city, in the past six weeks, a lot of on the first route really understood the program in a significantly lesser time.”

As for the original blue bins, they will be recycled.

“We’ve collected about 8,000 already. We’re going to go ahead and put them on pallets, wrap them up, and get paid for them,” said Lama.

 

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