To Recycle, Or Not to Recycle
By Holly Houser, Ocean Reef Press Editorial Assistant
The Garden Group recently invited Ocean Reef Solid Waste Manager Israel Salgado to give a recycling presentation at their “Talk Trash” meeting. Israel shared the important questions asked by the group and his answers:
We’ll start with the general question, what can and can’t you recycle?
Israel Salgado: Ocean Reef follows the recycling guidelines for Monroe County. Anything with the recycling symbol can be recycled, but there are some rules that go along with it. The main rule being that recycled items cannot be soiled. Meaning if they can’t be rinsed out, they can’t go in the recycling bin. For example, a can of beans must be rinsed out before it can be recycled, and a pizza box can’t be recycled in its entirety because of the grease that seeps into the cardboard. If the top of the box is clean though, it can be ripped off and recycled.
For a full list of recyclable and nonrecyclable items, see the graphic below.
With the popularity of online shopping, what should Members do with their cardboard boxes?
IS: The number of cardboard boxes we see has drastically increased, so we can no longer just pick them up once a week or they’ll pile up. The Solid Waste Team picks up trash three times a week in season and recycling only happens once. Therefore, we now pick boxes up on trash days and separate them in the truck. Members should breakdown their boxes and place them next to the trash bin (not inside the bin because the boxes cannot get contaminated by the trash). On your neighborhood’s recycling day, we will pick up boxes if they are inside the recycling bin.
What about the packaging inside the boxes? Is that recyclable?
IS: Many people try to recycle the Styrofoam, bubble wrap or foam packing peanuts that come in their packages but these are not recyclable. Our team accepts them in the trash and PakMail and UPS will take the donated peanut pieces. Some companies ship with packaging that is recyclable (ex, Amazon’s air cushions). It’s important to look at the symbol on the packaging because some items may have special recycling instructions.
Should an additional day of recycling pickup be added based on this increase?
IS: We have analyzed our trash and recycling pickups and have determined we still have the right ratio, three days for trash and one day for recycling. If a Member finds the recycling building up, we recommend getting the 65-gallon rolling containers as they hold more and can be closed to cover the contents. From now through the end of April, the Solid Waste Department is selling these bins for $40 in honor of Earth Day. If interested, call Israel at ext. 2181.
What happens if some of these non-recyclable items accidentally make it into a recycling bin?
IS: Once recycling is picked up, it’s taken to a plant in Pompano Beach for sorting. If a nonrecyclable item is found, it will be separated and thrown into the trash pile. There, different types of recyclables are also sorted into different piles.
On that note, we’ve also heard people say they throw their recycling and trash into one bin because Solid Waste separates it anyway. Is that true?
IS: No, but that is a common misconception. If recycled items are placed with the trash, they are then contaminated and will have to be thrown out. It’s still important to separate your trash from your recycling.
What should people do if they have questions?
IS: Members should call 305-367-5992 Monday through Friday if they have questions, if they need to schedule a special pickup or if they need to dispose of tires, paint, batteries or fluorescent bulbs (call 305-367-5811). If looking for trash and recycling pickup schedule, it can be found on page 15 of the ORCA Directory.