Residents of Collier County may be asked to share their recycling habits through a pilot study in collaboration with WM, or Waste Management, and The Recycling Partnership.
Collier County received a great reputation for recycling rates in recent years. For the first time, Collier County achieved a recycling rate of 75% in 2021, recycling 1.5 million tons of the 2 million total waste collected. Only five counties in Florida reached the 75% rate, Lee County being the top at 81%.
However, the county believes more can be done to promote mindful waste and chose to conduct two different studies to learn more about recycling behavior, one for single-family homes and one for multifamily.
“What we know is that there are over a high 80% of folks saying that they value recycling, then what we also see is that there’s a significant amount of material that doesn’t get recycled,” The Recycling Partnership Community Program Manager Alita Kane said. “We’re really focused right now on trying to figure out how to close that gap and determine what it is that will actually drive behavior change.”
This study at the benefit of WM is at no cost to the county and is aimed to increase the amount of quality recyclables through sending a team to conduct door-to-door education about local recycling guidelines. The Recycling Partnership has utilized this more intimate strategy of door-to-door discussions only a few times so far.
“We’re wanting to look at whether or not the recycling education that we have rolling out in Collier County is going to improve recycling participation overall,” Kane said.
The Recycling Partnership plans to reach 10,000 Collier County households by Sept. 17. So far, Kane has experienced that the interactions have been generally positive.
“Residents are excited to receive the unique recycling education coming right to their door, Kane said. “I think they’re really seeing that the county has an interest in the program and interest in seeing their residents engaged in the recycling program.”
This WM collaboration with The Recycling Partnership is not the only initiative Collier County has launched to promote an even higher recycling rate. The Recycle Right Campaign is ongoing in effort to educate those who are new to the area who may be used to different recycling rules.
“People move to Collier County from all over the country, and even other countries and different locations handle recycling differently,” said Evelyn Longa with Collier County Public Utilities. “So, what may have been recyclable wherever you moved from, may not be recyclable here or vice versa.”
Through the two pilot studies and the Recycle Right Campaign, the county could see an all-time high recycle rate in 2022.
“I think that people in Collier County really are very aware that recycling is important to our community long term and for keeping the way of life here,” Longa said. “We always say we thank them for helping us preserve paradise and this is what we call paradise, and everybody is interested in keeping it that way.”