The four major local jurisdictions: Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, St. Petersburg and Tampa, are trying to get consumers to change their recycling behavior via an effort calling on consumers to "Trash the Bag."
No, unfortunately, it's not an effort to ban plastic bags entirely, which cities and counties in the state of Florida can't technically do because the majority of people who make laws in the state of Florida take their orders from industrial leaders whose contempt for environmental preservation would be comical if it weren't so destructive.
So, in lieu of policies that could dramatically reduce our impact on the environment, local leaders are hoping to influence the public's behavior.
Namely, they'd like people to stop throwing plastic bags in their recycle bins, because although plastic shopping bags are indeed recyclable, the recycling plant's sorting equipment is not outfitted to handle them and they can cause damage when they get tangled up in machinery, according to a joint press release sent out this week. Recyclables that are pitched out in plastic bags can't be processed either.
So it all goes to the landfill, which obviously defeats the purpose.
Apparently, consumer education on this issue is so badly lacking that officials see fit to launch a first-ever region-wide effort to educate the public on recycling.
For the Tampa Bay region, curbside recycling is relatively new. Unlike other areas, which have been collecting recyclables from residential curbs since the 1990s or before, this area has only started to widely adopt the practice over the past decade or so. Prior to that, locals had to bring their separated recycling items to collection sites, or pay a private entity to pick them up. Now, consumers don't even have to sort their discarded bottles and cans.
But the ease that came with curbside also seemed to come with the common misconception that anything that seems like it might be recyclable could go into the bin just in case, but it doesn't work that way.
Officials are asking consumers to use cloth bags when they go grocery shopping or reuse plastic bags for pet waste or in other ways.
Things that can be tossed into those blue bins include clean and empty plastic bottles and containers, aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars, dry paper/newspaper/junk mail, metal containers, cartons and cardboard. They stress that these ought to be clean, empty and dry.
But, yeah, as we noted in our Green Issue this week, as a society, we ought to be rethinking our relationship with plastics anyway.