City of Melbourne’s Personalized Outreach Program Aims to Teach Residents How to Properly Recycle
By Space Coast Daily // November 23, 2020
Plastic bags are by far the most common item found that shouldn’t be in the carts
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Recent changes in the marketplace for recyclables has caused confusion among residents as to what can and cannot be recycled through Waste Management’s curbside recycling program.
To help residents better understand the changes, the City of Melbourne’s Environmental Community Outreach Division developed the Curb Contamination Program – a personalized outreach effort aimed at helping residents better understand the changes and reduce the number of problematic items that end up at the recycling facility.
Each Wednesday is recycling day in Melbourne and ECO division staff check recycling carts in a different neighborhood.
If they find items that shouldn’t be there, they hang an informational door hanger at the home that includes a checklist showing what can and cannot be placed in the carts.
“The main thing residents need to focus on is getting back to the basics of recycling aluminum and steel cans, plastic bottles and jugs, and cardboard and paper,” said ECO Division Manager Jennifer Wilster.
“It’s better to throw it out if it’s not one of these things than to contaminate the whole load and risk a shut-down of the recycling facility’s operation.”
Megan Selva, the City’s Environmental Programs Coordinator, has been conducting the recycling cart surveys and has found some unusual items, including a hose, a small electric iron, a toilet brush, an electrical cord, and a fury pillow.
About 60 out of 84 carts recently checked were found to have items that weren’t recyclable.
Plastic bags are by far the most common item found that shouldn’t be in the carts. Plastic bags get tangled up in the machinery at the recycling facility where Melbourne’s recycling goes for processing.
In addition, Waste Management can no longer accept clamshell containers, the type that holds strawberries and salad mixes, and has never accepted polystyrene, such as egg cartons.
“I think our community has good intentions but a lot of the contamination is from ‘wish cycling’,” Selva said.
“That’s when people want or ‘wish’ for it to be recycled or see the recycling symbol, but unfortunately, it’s not accepted in our curbside recycling program. Stick to recycling symbols 1 and 2. Plastic bags and food contamination like pizza boxes or containers with food residue continue to be a huge problem.”
In addition, the ECO Division distributes recycling information to new water customers, runs social media campaigns, meets with workgroups in the City to make sure they understand what is acceptable, and provides educational programs at schools and special events.
Some of this activity had slowed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but ECO staff have now begun to ramp up efforts again.
“We believe our residents are working hard to create a sustainable environment, and we are here to help,” said Jennifer Wilster, Environmental Community Outreach Manager.
For more information contact Jennifer Wilster or Megan Selva at 321-608-5080.