Advertisement
  1. Archive

How to tell the difference between garbage and recycling (w/video)

Published Dec. 28, 2017

Before the holidays, I started thinking about plastic.

And cardboard.

And all that wrapping paper.

It seemed like a good time to revisit an important topic — recycling.

I thought I knew it all, since I'm so committed to it that I fish things out of the trash all the time. Turns out I was wrong.

Did you know that 76 percent of your garbage can be recycled? But too many people engage in "wishful recycling," putting any type of plastic or glass into curbside bins.

Here's what they're looking for at the Pinellas County Solid Waste facility on 28th Street — food and beverage containers (milk, juice box and chicken broth cartons); cans (soup, pet food, veggies); plastic jugs (milk, water, juice); paper products (newspaper, envelopes and other mail, cereal and tissue boxes, toilet and paper rolls, wrapping paper and cards); and cardboard (think Amazon).

All those products should be clean and dry and put into the bin separately to make it through machines that sort them and prepare them for the market. Those who buy recycled materials won't pay for contaminated loads. In other words, don't drop a half-empty peanut butter jar into a recycling bin.

The folks at the county "dump" help with lots of other disposables, too.

Residents can drop off, at no charge, items for the Household, Electronics and Chemical Collection Center. There's also a free Swap Shop, where you can grab something someone else threw out.

Bring in tree branches, leaves, brush and grass clippings, and the facility will turn it into mulch, again without a fee.

The solid waste department also runs an artificial reef program, with 43 inshore and offshore reefs built from discarded items such as concrete pipes or steel beams carefully placed on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition, garbage is used as fuel in the county facility's power plant. This "waste-to-energy" process generates enough electricity to power 45,000 homes a day. Stormwater is collected on the 703 acres and used to cool the turbines in the energy process. Metals recovered from the ash are later recycled, and what's left is used as landfill cover. Trash volume is reduced by 90 percent when burned.

"Our message here is you reduce, reuse, recycle, and then we recover," said Sara Herzig, program assistant at the 28th Street facility. "So here at Solid Waste, we try to support a lot of recycling and reduction programs. And then the waste that's left over afterwards is what we want to take here and properly manage."

The proceeds from the operation help sustain it, so the facility receives no government funding. And the work goes on 24 hours a day.

_____

Do's and don'ts in your curbside container:

• Place items separately, never in plastic bags. They get stuck in the sorting machinery.

• Keep lids on containers.

• No pizza boxes, because items must be clean.

• No straws.

• No Christmas lights or ribbon, rope and hoses, because they can get tangled in the machinery.

• No paper or cards with foil or glitter.

• No glass cups, mirrors or serving ware.

• When in doubt, throw it out.

Recycling other items:

• Grocery stores accept paper and plastic grocery bags, paper towel plastic wrapping and clean take-out styrofoam containers and egg cartons.

• Home improvement stores take florescent light bulbs.

• Police stations accept medications.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Kathryn Norris , 57, died in 2009 inside her Chevrolet Nova. It took authorities almost 16 months to find her. How could a woman go missing inside her own home? Florida Today
    Kathryn Norris disappeared long before she died.
  2. Tampa firefighter Tanja Vidovic steps out of the federal courthouse in Tampa in during the 2017 federal trial of her sexual discrimination case against the city of Tampa. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON   |   Times]
    Tanja Vidovic will run against incumbent Joe Ayoub in the city’s March 2020 elections.
  3. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    James Busch, 53, is in “extremely critical condition" after he shot himself in the head, then was shot twice in the arms by a responding deputy.
  4. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    Scott J. Johnson, 50, was driving north near the Anclote toll plaza when he crashed into a steel post and died at the scene.
  5. Nancy Millan, director of community relations in Doug Belden’s office, has announced her candidacy for tax collector. Courtesy of Nancy Millan
    Former Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen and longtime Tax Collector employee Nancy Millan file to run for public office
  6. Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, executive director of the county's now-shuttered Civil Service Board, filed to run for clerk of court on Oct. 1, the day after his agency was dissolved. [Times (2013]
    Kevin Beckner, 48, is taking another shot at replacing longtime Clerk of the Circuit Court Pat Frank, who is retiring in 2020.
  7. All looks well in their official portrait, but ferry plans and residential development have helped open rifts among members of the Hillsborough County Commission. Back row, left to right: Stacy White, Kimberly Overman, Sandra Murman, Mariella Smith and Ken Hagan. Front row, left to right, chairman Lesley "Les" Miller andvice chairwoman Pat Kemp. ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  Hillsborough County
    Stoked by Facebook posts, email blasts and angry comments from the public, board meetings showcase infighting
  8. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates.
    It happened during a pool party at a Tampa apartment complex. “At this time,” deputies said, “no one is facing charges.”
  9. Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller, right, addresses the audience after the Board of County Commissioners Investiture Ceremony in Nov. of 2018. JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The county commission chairman says he plans to retire at the end of his current term.
  10. Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden told employees Wednesday morning that health problems have forced him to step down at the end of his fifth term, in January 2021.
    After 21 years in the job, Belden plans to retire when his term ends Jan. 3, 2021
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement