Feedback from David Dee
Posted on behalf of David Dee, submitted to Charlie Goddard. This post is repeated in the 403.7032(2), F.S. 75% Recycling Goal section.
I wanted to give you a few preliminary comments about the new statewide recycling goal.
What are you trying to measure?
At the outset, DEP needs to decide what it wants to measure and why. Stated differently, what is the goal that we are trying to accomplish?
The current law/regulatory scheme tends to primarily focus on residential recycling. I suggest that we should focus on reducing the amount of material that is delivered to landfills, regardless of where the material originates and regardless of whether this goal is accomplished through recycling or waste diversion techniques. The goal should be expressed as a waste diversion goal, rather than a recycling goal.
More mandates and more encouragement/education are needed to promote recycling. In Collier County, we developed a mandatory recycling ordinance for commercial entities because more than half of the waste stream was generated by medium to large businesses, yet only about 6% of the waste was recycled. [We exempted small "mom and pop" operations.] Collier found that most or all of these businesses would save money under the new ordinance because the increased cost of recycling would be offset by reduced costs for waste disposal.
I believe a similar approach should be adopted statewide. The recycling requirements can be minimal, and increased later if that is deemed appropriate, but anything will be better than nothing (i.e., the current level of participation).
More funding for public education, especially in the schools, is needed in many communities. Teach the kids and they will shame their parents into participating.
Make all governmental entities responsible for achieving the new goal (not just counties). The current law imposes the recycling requirements on counties, but it does not give counties the authority to do anything to ensure success.
Any new program should apply to counties, but it also should impose the recycling goal and related mandates on cities, special districts, school boards, and the other governmental entities that have the ability to control recycling within their jurisdictions.
Expand the types of materials that will count toward the recycling goal. You cannot achieve the new goal unless you expand the list of materials that can be counted toward the recycling goal. If we count everything that is diverted from a landfill, we will count all of the yard trash and C&D debris that is used in a beneficial manner, rather than discarded.
Waste reduction techniques (such as WTE) presumably could be counted toward a waste diversion goal. Whether the DEP chooses to do so is a matter of policy for DEP.
Achieving a new goal is not likely to be accomplished unless the State aggressively pursues new and expanded recycling opportunities for C&D debris, ash residue from WTE (and perhaps electrical power plants), and garbage (i.e., food scraps and other organics). Identifying the best methods of creating/encouraging/mandating such opportunities will be the challenge.