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Conservation Corner: CK transitions to a more sustainable future through recycling

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As we all know, transitions are never easy and that holds
true for Cedar Key’s efforts towards a more sustainable
future. But let’s look at some numbers that might give us
some encouragement:
Now that we know that our community efforts have nearly
doubled our recycling, let’s look at how we got there,
problems that ensued and solutions that help us address these
problems.
EDUCATION
Community informational meetings were held the last
week of July before our new waste hauling contract with
Waste Pro took effect August 1st. These meetings were
intended to inform businesses and residents of proper disposal
and recycling techniques as follows:
1. Special Handling Garbage Disposal
Grease – pour into metal cans
Disposable syringes and needles – place into a plastic
container with secure lid
Expired drugs – bury in kitty litter in a coffee can
2. Hazardous Materials Disposal
Fluorescent bulbs are often overlooked as hazardous
materials and must be brought to either Cedar Key’s semiannual
hazardous materials collection or handled by Levy
County Solid Waste in Bronson. Waste Pro can charge the
city up to $150 per incident if hazardous materials are found
in the garbage or recycling.
3.Bulk Items Disposal
Call the city and request a pick-up appointment by a local
scrap company for all appliances. This action assures recycling
and helps minimize the city’s tipping fees of $61.00
per ton. Mattresses and furniture will be picked-up the 2nd
Tuesday of every month by Waste Pro. Don’t allow them to
become rain soaked as they may become too heavy for
Waste Pro employees to lift. Note that all bulk items are to
be placed outside the night
before scheduled pick-up.
4.Recyclables
All items to be recycled are
to be mixed and loose.
Cardboard and paper are to be
kept dry as possible for optimum
recycling. Residents can use the green recycling bins
as supplied by Waste Pro or use their former garbage container
labeled with recycling stickers that can be obtained
from the library or city hall. Businesses must use the blue
recycling carts.
5.Garbage Overflow System
If a business or resident anticipates more garbage than
can fit in their containers as supplied by Waste Pro, “overflow”
bags will need to be purchased (5 bags/$10) at Cedar
Key Market of Marina Hardware.
PROBLEMS
Although our amount of recycling has nearly doubled, it
is still only roughly 15% of our total waste.
Our businesses are of course our largest generators of
garbage and they therefore face the most challenges with
managing employees to efficiently separate out recyclables
so that they in turn can manage their garbage and recyclable
disposal expense more effectively. Unfortunately some
businesses have allowed themselves to become so frustrated
with the process that they have simply quit trying.
Those residents who don’t recycle simply can’t be bothered
or feel as though they’re being imposed upon by their
government. Although our curbside recycling program is
currently voluntary, it’s just a matter of time before it will be
state mandated if Florida is to get anywhere near its recycling
goal of 75% by 2020.
Another problem has been a perceptual problem as Waste
Pro is currently using a garbage truck to pick-up our recyclables.
Not only is this a problem in trying to keep cardboard
and paper dry but it also gives our community the false
impression that our recyclables are being trucked off to a
landfill!
SOLUTIONS
Working with Waste Pro to supply a recycling truck
rather than a garbage truck to pick-up our recyclables is an
easy fix. Changing the attitudes of our businesses and residents
will take a community to offer their assistance, one
business and resident at a time.
Cedar Key is becoming well known as an eco-tourist destination.
Why not let these potential patrons know that your
business recycles. Better yet, why shouldn’t our community
bestow upon these businesses “Green Awards” to attract
these customers.
The recycling container now in the library for the recycling
of plastic bags only is a solution to keeping them out of
our landfills where they take 500 to 1000 years to breakdown.
Reusing our former garbage containers labeled with recycling
stickers for recycling and sharing them with neighbors
well help those who have more recycling than 2 recycling
bins can hold. And remember, you can call city hall and
request a change in your current garbage/recycling service,
hopefully increasing your recycling capacity.
There are so many ways that we can make this transition
more successful. Let’s all join together as a community and
make a difference so that we can meet our goal of a sustainable
future.
PERIOD TONS RECYCLED STATUS OF RECYCLING PROGRAM
Jan. 2009 5.9 Recyclables brought to recycling center
July 2010 8.3 Last month before curbside recycling
Aug. 2010 11.5 1st month of curbside recycling program
Sept. 2010 11.6 2nd month of curbside recycling program