Earth Watch: Pinellas County Recycling

It's time to think twice about what's recyclable and what's garbage. A 2014 study showed 3 of 4 pounds of trash thrown away at the Pinellas County Solid Waste plant is easily recyclable.

"There are lots of cardboard, plastic and containers thrown away everyday,"  said Stephanie Watson Program Supervisor Recycling Outreach and Programs at Pinellas County Department of Solid Waste.

Fortunately waste at the plant is melted down to make electrical energy and leaves ash behind. In July Pinellas county celebrated having an 89 percent recycling rate in 2015. It's the highest recycling rate the state and 26 percent jump from 2014.

"We contribute to the state's overall rate of 54%. The recycling rate is based on tonnage so heavy material. concrete, construction debris, yard waste. This helped drive the number up in Pinellas county," Watson said.

It's one step closer for Florida as a whole to meet a hefty goal of recycling 60% of it's waste by January 1st, 2017 and 75% by 2020.

 As a state we have more to do and Pinellas county has a lot of great ways to recycle," she said.

Each of the 24 municipalities in the county have their own recycling programs with partnerships with nearby recycling facilities. One of the newest programs is in St. Petersburg. The city has made great strides in their 13 month old residential recycling program.

 "There's still room for improvement but we do it very well and we're very pleased with the residents of St. Petersburg. As conditions allow us we'll look to expand to condo towers, large apartment buildings,

and businesses," said Jeff Donnel Recycling Support Manager City of St Petersburg.

Since the program started they've recycled 14,000 tons of material. Recyclables are sorted several days a week at Waste Connections.

"One of the first things they will do as part of the processing is if there is any trash that got put in with the recycling material they'll pull that out. Ours is about 7% which is for those who don't know is very good," Donnel explained.

Keeping waste out of the landfill and protecting the beautiful Tampa Bay area and our waterways.