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Florida Case Study: Brightening up Recycling in the Sunshine State

National nonprofit The Recycling Partnership awards $1.5 million in grants, transforming recycling for five Florida communities, 450,000 households

Recycling is much brighter in communities across the Sunshine State thanks to The Recycling Partnership and its partners helping Florida communities recycle more, better. From multifamily recycling to fighting contamination at the curb, the national nonprofit, which is committed to transforming recycling for good, is doing just that in Florida. Currently working with more than five communities in the state to help enhance their recycling programs, more than $1.5 million in grants have been awarded and more than 450,000 households have been reached.

These efforts include best-in-class tool kits, data, resources, and advice to the community about their recycling program. The Partnership has transformed recycling for good in more than 1,800 U.S. communities over the past six years. In combination with the several Florida communities, The Partnership has worked with the How2Recycle labeling program, whose mission is to educate the general public on how to recycle product packaging.

“Florida is a great state to try to improve material quality, increase participation in curbside programs, and improve efficient access to recycling across the whole state” says, Scott Mouw, Senior Director of Strategy and Research with The Partnership. “By achieving these goals, we are diverting more recycling from landfills and providing more materials to send to local manufacturers to be remade into new products and drive a more circular economy.”

Coastal and Waterway Community Recycling Grants

Several Florida communities have brought curbside carted recycling to their residents through The Recycling Partnership’s Coastal and Waterway Community Recycling Grant, a pledge funded in part by the Coca-Cola Foundation, to help address the challenge of waste in waterways and help improve the collection of quality recyclables for reuse.

The city of Sarasota, Florida’s first city to receive this grant, increased recycling tonnage collected by 71% while seeing participation in the City’s recycling program increase by 75%. Sarasota’s success created a domino effect throughout the region, having seen Sarasota County and the City of Venice also transition to a cart-based recycling program through similar granting initiatives.

Customized & Real-time Curbside Recycling Feedback

The Recycling Partnership’s work isn’t only limited to Florida’s coastal communities. The national nonprofit partnered with Orange County to launch its nationally-recognized curbside recycling education program, Feet on the Street. This program provides residents customized and real-time feedback on how to recycle more and better in their curbside recycling cart. To date, more than 70 communities across the U.S. have adopted The Recycling Partnership’s Feet on the Street cart-tagging program.  Some communities have seen reductions as high as 57% of their baseline contamination rates through the implementation of this program.

The first grant in Orange County brought Feet on the Street to 36,000 households in 2019 and thanks to additional funding from the Coca-Cola Foundation, another grant was provided to bring the program to an additional 30,000 households.

Aligning On-pack Recyclability Labeling and Community-facing Recycling Informtion

Keeping in mind The Partnership’s mission to bring together the highly dependent parts of the recycling system, work in Florida has extended beyond the community front, incorporating industry packaging labeling.   To further explore how to increase the quality and quantity of recycling materials put in the bin, The Partnership worked with How2Recycle in Orlando to distribute community-facing How2Recycle messaging and test if it would help residents look for recyclability labeling on packaging. Many participants shared that they looked for the How2Recycle label on product packaging after receiving the information and acknowledged that the label helped them easily understand recycling information. These findings open the door for additional work in this space towards\ unifying on-pack and community recycling information.

Improving Multifamily Recycling

The How2Recycle project in Orlando is a great example of industry collaboration and a vital part of extended work within the City.  In addition to increasing awareness of on-pack recyclability labeling, there was an observed reduction in contamination at all multifamily properties that received the totes, info cards and FAQ’s with How2Recycle messaging .  Traditionally rooted in work in the single-family recycling sector, The Partnership has recognized the need for more enhancements like this in multifamily recycling.

With Orlando’s recent commitment to multifamily recycling through their established commercial recycling ordinance, this community is the perfect fit for one of The Recycling Partnership’s multifamily projects. Collaboration took place with the city to develop recycling education kits that were made available to Orlando property managers, helping not only move them into compliance, but also educate their residents on recycling along the way.

Expansion to other Communities

In the fall of 2019, The Partnership collaborated with How2Recycle, with support from the Coca-Cola Foundation, to bring together communities from across Florida (remember the days of in-person workshops prior to Zoom fatigue?). The workshop provided a deep dive into the workings of a Feet on the Street program and insights on the workings of a successful processing contract for today. Attendees from the workshop were invited to apply for a mini grant to accomplish the implementation of a pilot Feet on the Street program in their community. These grant recipients include both the City of Tampa and the City of Apopka.  Feet on The Street has been well underway for these communities, with results from the projects to come.

Both of these communities are being provided with up to $15,000 dollars in mini grant funding and technical advice about the recycling program, to successfully implement a Feet on the Street pilot in their community.  The pilots include the core education pieces that are included as a best management practice for the program and cover associated labors costs to bring on temporary staff if necessary.

These Florida communities are not only joining neighboring Orange County in embarking on these projects, but many other communities across the nation. As the sun sets in the state of Florida, we can rest assured that it is on the beautiful sandy beaches and not on the vibrantly progressing recycling programs.

 The Power of Partnership in Florida

From multifamily recycling to on-pack messaging and fighting contamination at the curb, recycling is getting brighter in the Sunshine State thanks to The Recycling Partnership and its partners helping Florida communities recycle more, better.