County implements Think 5 recycling program
By County Commissioner Bryan Nelson
The Solid Waste Division of Orange County offers curbside collection of household garbage and recycling to all county residents. For over 25 years recycling has been a part of the Orange County community, and on January 1, 2016 this effort was expanded with the new Automated Curbside Recycling Program. As part of this program, recycling was transitioned from dual stream recycling to single stream.
Dual stream required that residents separate their recyclables such as glass, plastics, paper, and cardboard into two separate 18-gallon bins. The new single stream recycling eliminates this step by simply combining all recyclables in to one 95 gallon rolling cart.
These new carts have the potential to increase the amount of residential recycling. This would prove beneficial in eliminating extra waste from the landfill, but the success of this new recycling program depends on proper recycling of materials and education about what can go in them. The Think 5 Campaign is specifically designed to make recycling easier for residents by simply focusing on recycling of five items:
The overall goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about good recycling habits. One item that has can be particularly stubborn for recycling facilities to handle are plastic bags. Many residents believe that plastic bags can be recycled through the Curbside Recycling Program but the facilities are not equipped to deal with them. Plastic bags force facility employees to shut down the recycling machines in order to remove the bags from the machine’s teeth. Residents in Orange County should keep these five items in mind when deciding whether something is recyclable or not. If a resident wishes to recycle their plastic bags, they can be dropped off at local grocery stores such as Publix. Other items that are not recyclable include:
- Delivery pizza boxes
- Dishes, paper plates, pots, or pans
- Toys or laundry baskets
- Juice pouches
- Shredded paper
- Gift wrap, ribbons, or bows
- Hangers (plastic or wire)
Orange County ranked within the Top 20 Florida counties with a 52% recycling rate last year. This places the county on a great path towards achieving the 75% recycling rate my 2020. With over 200,000 households in Orange County, the Think 5 Campaign will help steer the county towards this important goal.
Every year the Solid Waste Division hosts visitors at the county landfill for Orange County Recycles Day. On this day the county landfill offer tours to visitors in an effort to boost education and knowledge about how our waste is processed and handled. This year the landfill will be open for tours on Saturday, November 12th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is a great opportunity to learn about the recycling process and how residents can work to eliminate waste from the landfill.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “In 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash and recycled and composted about 87 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.3 percent recycling rate. On average, we recycled and composted 1.51 pounds of our individual waste generation of 4.40 pounds per person per day.”
Recycling is essential to reducing waste and conserving our environment. Orange County residents can play an important role in this effort by Thinking 5.
Inquiries about recycling and the Think 5 Campaign can be sent via email to Solid.Waste@ocfl.net or called into the Orange County Utilities Solid Waste Hotline at 407-836-6601.