Volusia County is looking into educating residents on what can be recycled as the cost of processing recyclables increases in a depressed market.
The state of recycling in the county was discussed at the Roundtable of Volusia County Elected Officials meeting at the Daytona Beach International Airport on Monday, Feb. 11. Recently, municipalities have taken different approaches to deal with the increased $77.50 per ton processing fee for all recyclables — The city of New Smyrna Beach decided to bear the added cost for its residents, Ormond Beach cut glass recycling and Deltona suspended the entire service.
Jaqueline Kerr, financial controller of the recycling company, GEL Corporation, said that the China bans on mixed plastic and paper don't mean that recycling is over. China has impacted the market price, she said, increasing commodities in the U.S. and dropping the price they're able to be sold at.
Ormond Beach Mayor Bill Partington mentioned the city's 93% recycling rate, saying that the residents were willing to pay more to continue the service. At the City Commission meeting on Feb. 5, the commission voted 4-1 to amend its contract with Waste Pro of Florida to eliminate glass and non-marketable plastic containers from its service. Because of the market, this increased the monthly residential recycling fee by $1.21 per home.
Kerr said glass is a harder product to recycle because it's brittle and difficult to handle if it breaks. The conversation is coming up now in cities because of the rise in processing fees.
“People are making the decisions now because cities are having a share in the cost," she said.
In 2018, GEL Corporation, recycled 17,000 tons of material coming from Port Orange, DeBary, DeLand, Deltona and unincorporated Volusia County. People still want to recycle, Kerr said. The state has a 75% aspirational recycling goal to reach by 2020.
Partington said education was important, and that it would help for all the cities to update their websites with information on what is and isn't recyclable. City Commissioner Dwight Selby spearheaded this effort at the last commission meeting, and the city had previously discussed generating educational material for it's residents.
“That’s going to be the key to making all the programs more successful," Partington said.