Glades County in talks about a garbage program

MOORE HAVEN — As Earth Day came for 2019, Glades County still remained one of a few in Florida where there is no countywide solid waste pickup arrangement for regular trash or recyclables.

Presently, residents must contract themselves with one of the two companies that serve the area, Waste Management and Progressive Waste Solutions. Commissioner John Ahern wants to change that. He said last week that they’re “a ways away” from presenting any formal proposal but that countywide pickup could be established via an assessment on property tax bills, such as is done in neighboring counties including Okeechobee.

Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker
This is one of Glades County’s recyclables trailers; it’s policed and emptied regularly.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Waste Management reports quasi-current statistics on its website pages for how Florida counties are doing on the recycling front. More on that below, but in telling the public how to get involved in recycling efforts, it concludes, “Contact your county recycling coordinators to see how you, your family, your business and your organization can help.”

Unfortunately, not every county has such a designated staff member; Glades County doesn’t really have anyone officially in that particular capacity. It does employ one full-time worker who picks up and processes the contents of several mobile recycling trailers that are placed on a rotating basis at various locations inside Glades County; the cost is offset by yearly grants from FDEP. Only plastic jugs or bottles, cardboard and paper are recycled here at present. That could change fairly soon, too, however.

Commissioner Ahern reported at the April 9 board meeting that establishing mandated participation in a countywide solid waste pickup program and perhaps a better recycling program are “another project we’re working on.

“Yesterday, Mr. (County Manager Martin) Murphy, David Miller (the Moore Haven city manager) and I met with Jeff Sabin and Tony Bishop of Waste Management to talk about the possible mandatory garbage pickup for the county.”

Then Mr. Ahern addressed County Board Chairman Tim Stanley. “Mr. Chairman, Jeff Sabin, I guess, has worked with you on Buckhead, and … he’s going to reach out to you in the near future and talk about that again. But we just started that, so it’s something we’re working on.”

Mr. Stanley lives in Buckhead Ridge, at the north end of the county.

One county resident, Diane Cianfrani, plans to present a petition opposing a countwide assessment on tax bills to pay for mandatory pickup and says she has about 175 signatures so far.

The FDEP’s waste division says although the state has a 75% recycling rate goal for 2020 — that’s next year — the statewide rate was only 54% in 2015, just meeting the 50% target rate specified by then in Florida statute. Twenty counties led the way with 2015 recycling rates reaching and exceeding the 50 percent interim recycling goal.

As of Jan. 1, 2015, the department also recognized over 30 businesses and other organizations with a recycling rate of at least 50 percent. The challenge, DEP says, is for the recycling efforts of other counties, businesses and governmental agencies to match or exceed those leading the pack.

Says DEP’s waste reduction main webpage: “Each of us and our families can contribute by continuing to recycle as much as possible from our homes.

With strong recycling programs and strong participation from businesses, governmental agencies, organizations, families and individuals, we can get Florida to 75% by 2020. Contact your county recycling coordinators to see how you, your family, your business and your organization can help.”

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