Editor’s note: This short column from two Tampa recycling officials is in response to a recent letter to the editor that questioned the financial viability of recycling.
Taking care of the environment is one of the most important investments we make as a city. Recycling programs are operated beyond just thinking dollars and cents. Often the negative consequences of not recycling are passed on in ways that markets do not reflect in pricing, like clean air and water, preserving natural resources, and reducing emissions.
Plus, these educational moments are critical in teaching younger generations about solid waste management, supply chains, and economics. Recycling correctly — no trash bags in the green cart, please! — is one of the most accessible, small steps to reduce your environmental impact.
While recycling does come with a price tag, the industry has created hundreds of thousands of jobs and established a method for extending the life of non-renewable resources. As companies and consumers around the world demand more sustainably produced products (those that account for environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) metrics) we will see clearer labeling on products, alternative packaging, changes in electronics repairs, and a wholesale transition away from plastics across all industries.
In Tampa, collection vehicles are streamlined for multi-purpose use. Whether they are used for garbage or recycling, the waste will continue to grow, creating an even larger need for recycling and waste reduction. The more people that participate correctly, the bigger the impact recycling will create. Finally, as a reminder, while recycling is beneficial, preventing/reducing the amount of waste created whether that is trash or recycling, should always be considered first and foremost.
Shelby Lewis, Recycling Coordinator for the City of Tampa, and Whit Remer, Sustainability and Resilience Officer for the City of Tampa