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Recycle Smart!

Lee County, home to Sanibel Island, has been a recycling leader in Florida since 2002. According to data recently released by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Lee County currently ranks third in the state with a 74 percent recycling rate, putting the county well on track to meet the statewide 75 percent recycling goal by 2020.

However, the county’s road to recycling proficiency has not been an easy one, as in order to reach the 74 percent rate, Lee County’s recycling contractor has had to pull 19.4 million pounds of trash out of recycling carts. That’s nearly 10,000 tons of trash that should not have been placed in recycling bins to start with, and removal efforts have cost taxpayers close to $363,000.

As a Green Leader on Sanibel, Ocean’s Reach is joining the effort to encourage everyone to Recycle Smart.

Only five materials belong in a recycling cart:

– Metal cans are acceptable, including both aluminum and steel.

– Plastic containers labeled No. 1 through No. 7 on the bottom or side. “Container” is the key word; not straws, hangers or pool noodles.

– Glass bottles and jars.

– Cardboard boxes are acceptable unless it held a liquid or a frozen food.

– Papers are accepted unless shredded or soiled.

While recyclables can be co-mingled, everything placed in a recycling bin needs to be clean and dry. Haulers are getting more stringent about the recycling they will collect. It’s especially important to note that plastic bags, which are not recyclable with our current collection and processing equipment, are not accepted.  

Clean recycled materials are such an issue nationwide that China, the world’s largest buyer of scrap materials, stopped buying U.S. materials on May 1. That means the market for recyclable materials has dropped dramatically. Lee County must offer clean materials for sale or 83,000 tons will be sent for disposal rather than be recycled.

Please join us in our efforts to focus on proper recycling. For more information, visit www.leegov.com/solidwaste.

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