Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Teaching Your Residents the Three R's

Being “green” and recycling has been to many a beneficial trend nationwide in recent years. Logically, there is little push-back when the facts are presented. The U.S. is the number one trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year—which translates to five percent of the world’s people generating 40 percent of the world’s waste. For example, it is estimated that Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour, with the majority of them thrown away.

Despite the need and benefit to recycle and repurpose materials, many states, including Florida, do not have universal recycling laws. “There’s not a statewide mandate for recycling in the state of Florida,” says Lauren McCarthy, former executive director of the Florida Recycling Partnership. “It is done on a county and municipal basis; a very convoluted system.”

While in 2006 Florida’s 67 counties had a total of 8,567,931 tons of municipal solid waste deposited in landfills through recycling, in 2009 Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach had 2,363,408 tons of combusted garbage and 1,798,045 tons of recycled materials. These numbers are expected to grow exponentially with growing population rates.

In an effort to offset these increases, Florida has taken significant measures to increase its recycling program. This was best underscored by the passage of The Energy, Climate Change and Economic Security Act of 2008. The purpose was to establish a new statewide recycling goal of 75 percent to be achieved by the year 2020.

“The 75 percent recycling goal is the highest of any state,” Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael Sole noted after the bill was passed. “It will be a challenge to achieve, but it can be reached through partnerships among state government, local governments, trade organizations, schools, businesses and industries as well as the people of Florida.”

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