Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is this Really just a Local Issue?

The other day I posted the links to this blog and the corresponding Facebook page on a National Green board of which I am a member. My goal was to:
  1. Get group members also from Brevard to embrace this initiative and participate;
  2. Let others know how low the percentage of population who recycle is in our area and the need to get more people on board;
  3. Let everybody who already lives (or try to live) a "green" life know about this initiative -- maybe it could inspire someone else to start the same thing somewhere else. 
I was surprised by the reaction of a member who said not to care about the recycling reality in Brevard county. That made me think: should that person who advocates for a green life-style really not care? Why would local recycling facts not matter to others in the country? Is this really a local issue only? 

EPA's numbers for 2009 (Facts and Figures for 2009) tells us that recycling is not only a local issue; it is indeed a national issue. Even though over the decades there was an increase in the national recycling rate from less than 10 percent of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated in 1980 to almost 34 percent in 2009, and there was a decrease of the disposal of waste to landfills from 89 percent of the amount generated in 1980 to about 54 percent in 2009, EPA's report shows that still only 33.8% of the national waste is recycled; the rest of it is either burned or disposed of in landfills.

"Over the last few decades, the generation, recycling, composting, and disposal of municipal solid waste (MSW) have changed substantially" (EPA), but there is a lot more to be done... And since the country is made up of states, which are made up of a number of counties, what is happening in each county should matter!

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in Brevard County, FL only 31% of the population recycle. In the whole state of Florida that number drops a bit to only 28% (http://appprod.dep.state.fl.us/www_rcra/reports/WR/Recycling/2008AnnualReport/AppendixA/5A.pdf). In order to improve the state numbers, in 2008 the government passed the Energy, Climate Change, and Economic Security Act.

The goal set by the Florida's Energy, Climate Change, and Economic Security Act of 2008 (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/recyclinggoal75/) is to have the state recycling rate reach 75% by 2020. As posted on Ocala.com, some see the challenge as a difficult one and probably impossible to achieve. "You can mandate 75 percent all you want, but it doesn't mean it's going to be reused, without the market, (recycling goals are) destined to fail."

The Ocala site reports that "Mary Jean Yon, FDEP's director of the division of waste management, said the 75 percent goal was achievable using her agency's recommendations. [...]

Some of the FDEP's recommendations include:
  • Require state agencies to meet the 75 percent goal.
  • Apply the 75 percent goal to counties with populations greater than 100,000 people and cities with populations greater than 50,000.
  • Require commercial recycling in large counties and cities to include multi-family residential units such as apartments and condominiums, as well as institutional facilities such as schools and hospitals.
  • Direct school districts to implement recycling programs.
  • Create recycling grants or loan programs to help local governments reach a 75 percent recycling goal.
  • Require that construction and demolition debris disposal facilities be modified to include a materials recovery facility that separates recyclable materials instead of allowing it to go to landfills.
  • Create a recycling business assistance center to promote markets for the entire spectrum of recyclable municipal solid waste materials, organic and inorganic."
We are up for the challenge and all counties need to participate. If Florida reaches the 75% rate, this will be extremely positive to the whole country, so do not think that this effort interests locals only. No, it is not just a local issue.

Recycle Brevard!