Where in the Waste Stream is Recycling R?

Let's define some important Terms (with Capital Letters) in context. Every Thing we throw away flows into the great Waste Stream heading for the Land Fill. This is garbage, not sewage. Creating the stream of waste takes energy, costs money, uses virgin materials, litters the land, dirties the air, and pollutes the water. Reread that; the Waste Stream is expensive and impacts our environment.

Not littering is an important first step. You can reuse as much as possible and buy things in bulk for less packaging. But what else? All is not lost; enter Recycling. The point of the recycling game is to recover things; take waste out of the stream before it fills the land. You get more points for saving energy, earning money, and catching a breath in a cleaner environment. Enter the Recycling Rs.

Why does recycling happen automatically? Recycling Ron (Ron Herrick of the state of Florida) says it is mandatory. The legislature recently passed bill 851 that modifies current law. It goes into effect next year, in July, 2003. The Department of the Environment (DEP, where Ron is the Administrator, Waste Reduction Section) implements the law. And counties, including Walton County, follow it.

Who pays for it? Recycling Rusty (Rusty Floyd, Walton County Coordinator, Public Works) takes your 1% sales tax dollars to collect garbage from the public, recycling as much as possible. Every ton of glass, aluminum, plastic, paper, and cardboard picked out by prisoners from Walton Correctional saves $32. The Material Refuse Center in deFuniak Springs is a public landfill at the end of the waste stream. If you are in the construction, demolition, or debris business, you pay to dump your waste stream at a separate, private land fill. Even private landfills recycle, proof that it is preferable to filling land. When replacing tires on a motor vehicle, you pay a fee to recycle the old ones. Bill 851 sets 40% of used tire disposal fees aside to fund grants for innovative recycling plans. Get a grant and get paid for improving our recycling.

Should I, can I recycle directly? Recycling Ralph (Ralph Kline of Freeport Recycling) pays you by the pound for nonferrous metals. That includes radiators or anything made from copper, aluminum, brass, stainless, or lead. Other businesses pay for recyclables; check the yellow pages. The county collects separated glass, newspaper, plastic bottles, and cans at a dumpster by the Walton Sun newspaper office in the Emerald Coast Plaza on Hwy. 98. There are also county dumpsters at each Elementary School.

So there are three recycling Rs. What about other things? Walton doesn't take hazardous waste, but they pay Okaloosa county to take it at an annual spring event. You can bring gas, oil, pesticides, and such materials that should not be put into the regular garbage. Watch TV and newspapers for news of this event held at the S. Walton Mosquito Control facility in Santa Rosa Beach, at Hwy. 98 and 393.

If you are willing to go out of your way and be slightly sneaky, read on. Wal-Mart stores recycle clean plastic shopping bags. Bay county recycles paper, that is cardboard, bags, and office paper. Save a tree. Redco Recycling, 1690 Bay Ave., Panama City is located behind the police station. For other locations and info, call 850-769-2191 or email redcorecycling@earthlink.net. Since there is no cost to Bay county for this service you don't have to feel guilty for crossing county lines.

For more information ask an elementary school child. The county spends some of those sales tax dollars on an annual newspaper collection contest to reward recycling. The winner at each school gets a plaque, T-shirt, coloring book, yo-yo made from recycled materials, info, and a trash bag. On the Internet, for state recycling information, visit http://www.floridarecycletoday.org.

This article was printed in Sand Tracks, 2002.

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