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Collier County reaches 75% recycling rate

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Samantha Romero
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Jose, a Public Works Solid Waste driver, smiles while collecting a recycling bin Saturday, July 30, 2022. Collier County has reached a 75% recycling rate set by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Collier County recently reached a 75% recycling rate set by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection . County Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Director Kari Hodgson calls this a moment of celebration for the county.

“I smile every time. I’m so proud. We were waiting on nerves, you know, on the edges of our seat waiting to hear if we actually hit the 75%,” Hodgson said. “We’ll be having a 75% party in the office to celebrate.”

The Florida Legislature established a statewide weight-based recycling goal of 75% by 2020 through the Energy, Climate Change and Economic Security Act of 2008. The Legislature established interim recycling goals: 40% by 2012; 50% by 2014; 60% by 2016; and 70% by 2018.

Collier is one of five among Florida's 67 counties to reach the 75% mark. The county recycled 1.5 million tons of the two million tons of waste collected in 2021, according to the Department of Environmental Protection. This is the first time Collier County has reached the statewide goal.

Hodgson said Collier County reached a 74% recycling rate in 2020, and then added another 1%.

“That extra 1% in 2021 was pretty exciting to meet the state goal,” she said.

“We are so proud of our residents, visitors, and businesses who recycle right every day," Hodgson said. "Our exceptional recycling rate emphasizes the fact that every person can make a difference to help preserve the environment."

“We’ve reached that goal, by networking with our schools, networking with our communities, networking with even builders associations, and keeping a great relationship with the businesses helping people get the message of how to do things the right way,” Hodgson added.

In a press release, Collier County credits many programs for helping to achieve the goal. The county’s residential collection program recycles glass, metal cans, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard.

Collier's award-winning foam recycling program collects foam at any recycling drop-off center. It also collects yard waste, construction and demolition materials, appliances and electronics.

Through the gas to energy facility, landfill waste powers 3,000 homes in Collier.

“Our home recycling program is highly participated by the customers that come to our recycling centers,” Hodgson said.

The home recycling program has four centers that accept recyclable materials from the public at no fee. That means those items aren’t going into landfills or the environment.

Solid and Hazardous Waste Management also has helped train local businesses throughout the year on recycling. Hodgson said the change is monumental. “[It’s] showing them the progress that they made. That’s a really good feeling,” she said.

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This photo from Solid and Hazardous Waste Management shows the before-and-after effect of their recycling training on Southwest Florida Businesses. (Courtesy of Solid and Hazardous Waste Management)

Hodgson added that Collier County hopes to keep the recycling message alive with more education.

“What’s next for Collier County is keeping the messages simple. Keeping the education alive, keeping people engaged and letting people know that every little bit makes a difference,” Hodgson said.

For more information on how to recycle, visit here.

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