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Floridians are contaminating their home recycling bins with things that can’t be recycled at curbside, such as plastic bags, greasy pizza boxes, thin plastic packaging and much more. In fact, nearly one-third of all materials households send to Florida recycling facilities are not actually recyclable and contaminate loads of items that otherwise could be recycled.

We call this “wish-cycling” — well-intentioned recycling that ends up creating more problems than solutions. While the intentions are good, these mistakes are costly and time-consuming — sometimes shutting down processing plants for hours at a time.

YOU can help Florida reach its statewide goal by rethinking what you thought you knew about curbside recycling and resetting your behavior.

Ask your county recycling coordinator:

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is “contamination”?
When a load of recycled goods contains even a small amount of items not meant to be recycled, it is contaminated. A contaminated load can shut down operations of an entire processing facility and ruin the “good” recyclable material.

What is “Rethink. Reset. Recycle.”?
“Reset. Rethink. Recycle.” is a statewide public education campaign dedicated to increasing Florida’s recycling rate and decreasing curbside contamination by helping Floridians rethink what they recycle and reset their behavior to focus on the basics.

Should I put plastic bags in my curbside recycling bin?
No. Plastic bags are a major contamination problem at recycling centers, clogging machinery and shutting down operations for hours at a time. Instead, recycle your plastic bags in designated bins at your local retail store.

What CAN I recycle?
Focus on 1) aluminum and steel cans, 2) plastic bottles and jugs and 3) paper and cardboard. Make sure cans, bottles and jugs, and cardboard boxes are clean and dry before going into your curbside recycling bin.

Why does recycling matter?
By eliminating the 30% of contaminated materials in curbside recycling bins, we could save $100 million in recycling costs in one year alone. Tax dollars will be saved, the environment can be preserved for future generations and scarce natural resources can be stretched to last longer.

Does it even matter if I recycle? Other people will probably continue to contaminate it anyway.
Recycling is the one thing we as individuals can control, and by recycling smarter, Floridians can make a big difference. 

Where can I recycle – where are recycling centers near me?
Contact your county recycling coordinator.

RESOURCES

Calling all recycling coordinators and public information officers across Florida’s 67 counties and 400+ cities. Join us in fighting contamination by downloading and using digital and printable resources — including a social media kit and content, web banners, fact sheet and more — to help get Floridians back to the basics of recycling.

 

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