Mar 20, 2010

Florida trash recycling goals

State Sen. Lee Constantine's longtime goal of dramatically boosting the recycling of Florida's 32 million tons a year of trash is gaining momentum.

The Altamonte Springs Republican's legislation, Senate Bill 570, calls for a statewide recycling rate of 40 percent by 2012, 50 percent by 2014, 60 percent by 2016, 70 percent by 2018 and 75 percent by 2020.

The state already has difficulty meeting its current goal of recycling 30 percent of the debris and trash that otherwise wind up in landfills.

“We are woefully behind other states,“ Constantine said Wednesday during a Tallahassee workshop of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, which approved the bill after it drew generally favorable support from industry , environmental and government representatives at the gathering. Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club have been enthusiastic about the senator's push for more aggressive recycling, an effort he began in 2007 as part of a broader quest for energy conservation. But Dwight Adams, who wasn't at the workshop but is chairman of Sierra's Waste Minimization Campaign, said the bill “doesn't have what it takes to get there,“ including not enough emphasis on composting food scraps and yard waste.

Associated Industries of Florida supports a recycling bill “that moves Florida into the next era,“ association lobbyist Keyna Cory said in a phone interview. Her business group backs provisions that would boost the market for recycled goods, though it is concerned that a mandatory reporting requirement for businesses with 25 or more employees would be too much of a burden.

Debbie Sponsler of Orange County's Solid Waste Division said she is worried about whether there will be sufficient demand for recycled items because “I want stuff leaving here and not piling up.“

The bill filed by Constantine, chairman of the environmental committee, also calls for mandatory recycling at businesses, apartments and condominiums that open after the bill becomes law; creation of a Recycling Business Assistance Center to encourage markets for recycled goods; and mandatory recycling of construction and demolition debris.

Several aspects of the legislation are mirrored in a variety of House bills.

Not part of Constantine's bill: provisions for curtailing use of plastic and paper shopping bags. The state Department of Environmental Protection proposed a phased-in ban of such single-use bags but then retreated recently from the recommendation.

Kevin Spear can be reached at or 407-420-5062.

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