Make recycling popular by making it easier

  • Bottle caps go in the trash, only the rinsed out bottles go to recycling

  • Only plastic types numbered 1 or 2 get recycled, the rest go in the trash

  • Empty aerosol cans can be recycled

  • Cardboard can be recycled, but it has to be cut to fit in your curbside recycling bin

What about everyone who doesn't have curbside service, those living in apartments, condos, or town homes? The good news is that the city hasn't ruled you out as recyclers just yet. The website states they will provide recycling containers for a one-time fee, however their billing process is changing such that pick up fees will also need to be collected. The bad news is that these containers would be for the entire residential complex, so you'll need to convince the owner or management to give written permission to receive the service (and probably go about adding the service fee into the leases going forward). You can call the Solid Waste customer service line for more information at (813)-348-1111.

By sticking the print-out near your recycling container inside the house and remembering the tips above, you can make recycling easier on yourself and everyone else in your household. The easier it is, the more likely someone is to participate, and the more likely they are going to do it correctly.  By sufficiently rinsing out bottles and only putting the accepted recyclable materials in the curbside bin, we'll make it easier for the recycling collectors and processors to do their jobs. The less trash they have to sort out and less time they need to spend readying the materials to be recycled, the more efficient the process will be. As the efficiency goes up, the true cost of the recycling process goes down. Recycling services that once seemed too high a cost for smaller communities may become more affordable, and more may be convinced to participate. We can actually help recycling become more widespread simply by making sure we are recycling correctly!

We already know recycling helps reduce waste and prevents good materials from ending up in a landfill. It's what we don't know that can make recycling frustrating, inefficient, and more costly. Let's make it easier and make recycling more viable in the process.

To all the recyclers out there, I applaud your efforts. You already take an extra bit of time to separate your paper, plastic, metal, and glass refuse from the rest of the trash so it can be reclaimed and reused as something else. But beyond the water bottles and soda cans, remembering what else gets recycled and in what condition your recycling facility expects it can get a little overwhelming. Plastics can be especially dubious due to the wide variety of plastic types. Even if you get that sorted out, you might be left wondering what to do with the unmarked bottle caps. Cardboard is a paper product, right? Can it go in the recycling bin?

Here's how you can make it easier for yourself (and anyone else you'd encourage to recycle). The internet is a wonderful tool for finding the specifics of your local recycling services, everything from costs, pick-up times, and most importantly, what goes in the bin!  Residents of Tampa should already have curbside recycling at their residence.  Luckily, the recycling business has gotten a lot better at handling all the materials since I first started recycling, so there's no need to sort by material any more. You can just toss all your recyclables into your blue bin and place it on the curb where the recycling truck driver will be able to see it. And, thanks to someone thoughtful at the Department of Solid Waste, they've gone ahead and created a PDF you can print out and hang near your recycling container inside. For most items you can look at the print-out and know what goes in and what doesn't. For any lingering questions, there's a page of FAQs with the details.

Some quick recycling tips for Tampa residents to remember:

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