In Brevard County, single-stream recycling has made life a lot easier. It also has made recycling rates go up significantly and they continue to climb, according to the latest report that consolidates 2013 recycling data published by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
In that report, Florida DEP announces that "traditional recycling rate increased by three percent [statewide] from 35 percent in 2012 to 38 percent in 2013" and Brevard County, with a rate of 52 percent, ranked as one of the top 10 counties with highest recycling rates in Florida.
That is excellent news, but what can we do to help increase that rate and push Florida closer to the goal set by the Florida legislature in 2008 of a recycling rate of 75 percent by the year 2020?
The report recognizes that "increasing commercial recycling would have a substantial positive effect on the recycling numbers as a whole [because] commercial municipal solid waste accounts for approximately 55 percent of the total municipal solid waste in Florida [and] only about half of the commercial solid waste in Florida is being recycled." If you do not own a business, you can still make a difference.
Following the order of importance of the 3Rs, you should first try to reduce what goes in your garbage can by cutting down any unnecessary waste — e.g. plastic bags, disposable/one-time use items, and packaging — and placing in your recycling cart everything that is accepted by curbside collection.
For items not accepted on the curb, you may still be able to divert them from the landfill. Donate usable items to charities and look online for alternative places to take unwanted items, like batteries or hangers from drycleaners, at Earth911.com or in Brevard County’s Recyclopedia available on the recycling page of the county’s website.
If you would like to support a school or a non-profit organization, you may choose to upcycle with Terracycle (terracycle.com). Terracycle is a for-profit company that "collects difficult-to-recycle packaging and products and repurposes (or upcycles) the material into affordable, innovative products." You can sign up for free to any Terracycle brigades to collect, ship and get awarded points that can be converted to a donation to the school or nonprofit organization of your choice.
If you are not interested in signing up for a brigade, Recycle Brevard partnered with other organizations to have drop-off locations available in Brevard. For a list of those locations, visit RecycleBrevard.org.
Points are also awarded by Recyclebank (Recyclebank.com), a company that "partners with communities all over the country and offers new ways for you to learn, earn points and shop online." Registering on their website is free and while you learn about green living, you earn points that can be redeemed for coupons and discounted online purchases.
You can also earn points for recycling at home, but for that your hauler or city needs to partner with Recyclebank. You can send a letter to your hauler or your city asking them to participate in the Recyclebank program and the whole community wins. Rewards for recycling are currently available in a few communities, so why not add yours to the list, too?
In the end, helping Florida achieve a 75 percent recycling rate by 2020 is a combined effort of combined actions that presents a challenge to all of us. Where some see difficulties, I see possibilities; a lot of possibilities. We need to go beyond the curb to find alternative ways to divert waste from our landfills. The more we do, the closer we get to that goal.
For more information, check out these websites:
Contact Marcia Booth at Marcia@RecycleBrevard.org.