Recycling is a great way to help keep our City clean and our environment happy! How, you ask? Recycling keeps valuable material from being disposed of and reduces our need for natural resources.It allows us to turn something that is no longer useful into something of value. For example:
- Aluminum cans can be made into new aluminum cans
- Steel cans can be made into new steel cans and other products
- Glass can be used to make new glass bottles and jars and in road construction
- Plastic bottles can be made into fabric and lumber
- Paper can be turned into new paper, such as cereal boxes
In the City of Lake Worth Beach, we recycled over 1,726,000 pounds, or 863 tons, of material in just 6 months (October 2018 – March 2019)!
For many years, the City of Lake Worth Beach had a single-stream collection of recyclables. That means, we collected all types of recyclables in one container. While convenient for our residents, the contamination levels were around 40%. In order to process material this contaminated, the processing facility was going to charge the City a substantial fee for each ton delivered to their facility. As this was not an option for the City, a partnership was formed in 2018 with the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County for them to process the recyclables collected in the City. The partnership allows the City to receive a share of the revenue from the sale of the recyclables instead of paying for disposal. What’s the catch? They would only accept the material if collected in a 2-sort system (2 bins) to significantly reduce contamination levels. While it was a tough transition, it was necessary and it has resulted in an economically viable program. The City is committed to continually improving our recycling efforts and reduce the amount of garbage we dispose of.
Contamination – What’s the Big Deal?
Sometimes, people think they are doing the right thing by putting an item into their recycling container in hopes that it will be recycled. Unfortunately, it won’t be recycled.When people put the wrong items into their recycling containers, it’s called contamination and it’s a BIG issue for recycling. Why? It causes processing costs to increase and, if there is too much contamination in a load of recycling, it may require disposal at significant cost to the City.So, actually, you are a better recycler and doing more to help the environment by following collection guidelines and only putting acceptable items in your recycling containers.
One of the ways the City helps reduce contamination is by the special trucks we use.We use what’s known as a 60/40 split truck. It may look like a regular garbage truck, but it is specially designed with an interior wall to separate the truck into 2 compartments. One side is for the mixed items, such as bottles and cans, and the other side is for paper. Because it has 2 compartments, the materials never touch each other.
When you purchase items made from recycled materials, you help close the loop on recycling.It helps create a demand for the recycled material. Most of us already purchase recycled items and we don’t even realize it.Aluminum and steel cans, glass bottles and jars, and food cartons, like cereal boxes, all contain recycled content. Even the recycling bins you use have recycled content!
Some examples of products with recycled content are:
- Copy paper, folders, binders and other office supplies
- Pens, pencils and crayons
- Playground mulch
- Ceiling tiles
- Flower pots
- Kitty litter
- Plastic toys
Instead of throwing away your unwanted items, please consider donating them to local charities:
- Animal shelters always need your old sheets and towels
- Extra non-perishable food can be donated to food pantries
- Clothing, furniture and other household items in good condition can be donated to various organizations
- Senior Centers and Assisted Living Facilities would welcome puzzles and magazines
- Schools are always looking for various donations of items such as school supplies and gently used school uniforms
Be sure to check with the organization you wish to donate to before you drop anything off.