Recycle Right Challenge
City Launches New Campaign
Recycling has become part of everyday life, but the paper goods, cans, bottles and other materials placed in our bins or carts need to meet specifications. The buyers of recyclables have begun to reject the materials causing a decline in the value of materials. Effective the first week of July 2018, the City of Coral Springs has entered into a new contract for recyclable material processing that includes penalties for excessive contamination. We want to ensure our residents and businesses better understand why these changes are in place, as well as how we can work together to make “RECYCLING RIGHT” in Coral Springs.
Where do recycled materials go?
After collection, our recyclables are processed to group similar materials (cardboard, newsprint, aluminum cans and various plastics) and shipped to some USA based and many overseas mills. However, recycled materials that are too wet, too dirty, or too mixed with non-similar materials are downgraded or rejected. Consequently, local processors are required to install expensive equipment and hire more staff to meet the quality demands.
China emerged as the main market and robust pricing helped drive the expansion of programs. However, quality of materials became more important, causing a downward spiral in the market. Since January 2018, China will no longer accept foreign waste – stating that it is over contaminated. This caused U.S. recycling companies to adjust processing contracts requiring customers to pay higher processing fees without guaranteed revenue.
What is our current contamination level?
A study in 2015 determined a 17.2% contamination rate for Coral Springs. This included bagged garbage, food contaminated items, yard waste, toys, electronics, hoses, and plastic bags, as well as dirt and other fine materials that were too small to recover.
What is causing recycle contamination? This is partially due to residents and business owners depositing items commonly believed to be recyclable into their blue carts. Here’s some additional explanation:
- Why exclude pizza boxes? They contain oils and grease that impact the production in paper mills. The boxes may contain waxed paper, which also creates problems.
- What about plastic bags? These are a major problem for recycling facilities, becoming wrapped around equipment and shutting down operations. You can turn your plastic bags in directly to grocery retail outlets. Or better yet, utilize reusable grocery bags.
- Why not dirty or wet paper? Wet and dirty paper can become moldy. Recycling facilities cannot accept wet paper towels used to clean spills, wet newspapers or magazines disintegrate the quality of paper used in recyclable materials. First, always keep your cart lids closed to ensure recyclable materials are kept dry.
- Is Yard waste recyclable? Yes, this type of material is recycled, but not at the same location as paper and containers. The recycling facility sorting equipment is not designed to separate tree trimmings, grass clipping or similar materials. This waste should be placed in the green bin or in bundles for bulk pick-up, where it is processed at a different resource recovery facility. Do not place yard waste in blue bins.
- Why wash cans and bottles? Food materials in cans or bottles are deemed “dirty” and cannot be recycled. Rinse these materials before placing them in the blue cart.
It goes without saying, regular trash should never be deposited into the blue cart. Perhaps people mistakenly place it in there, not realizing the difference between the blue and green carts. This is something we encourage all families to discuss.
What do these changes mean for Coral Springs?
Under our new processing contract, there is a 10% threshold for contamination. If we are unable to reach that goal, the City will be financially penalized. At the current 17.2% contamination level, we incur a $4/ton penalty. Less contamination translates to higher market value for our recyclables and reduces the amount of material sent for disposal at a landfill.
How will we accomplish this goal?
Follow the list of materials that are depicted on the recycling cart lid. No pizza boxes, garbage, plastic bags, electronics and yard waste. Do not place recyclables in plastic bags. Place loose in the cart. Perhaps assign a family member to handle the recycling for the family. Check the cart for non-recyclable items before recycling day. Speak to your neighbors and friends about this important and timely topic – it’s a global issue. Always check your blue cart before putting it out to the curb to make sure all items are approved recyclable material.
The City will conduct various outreach events, check carts in various neighborhoods and utilize social media to spread the word and offer Recycle Right tips.
Waste Pro will begin to check the blue carts to ensure there is no contamination before collection. If excessive contamination is noted, they will tag the cart requesting the non-recyclable materials be removed before the next pick up.
How will we know how the City is doing?
On a weekly basis, loads will be sampled at the processing facility. City staff will track the results and post the “contamination” percentages. Follow our goal meter online at coralsprings.org/recycleright and for additional information about recyclable material. We also ask that residents submit photos of themselves “recycling right” to email@example.com (please include your name and contact information). These will be used for social media stories about how residents in the City of Coral Springs are getting recycling right. Together we can make the City of Coral Springs the premier city for recycling!