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There's Too Much Trash In Tampa's Recycling Bins, Study Shows

pile of garbage and recycled items, with man and front-end loader behind it
Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
Workers sort through Tampa's recycled waste.

The city will start an education program to make sure the public knows what to recycle - and what to throw away.

Much of what we think is being recycled is instead going straight to the trash bin.

A city of Tampa study shows one-third of everything put in recycling bins shouldn't be there.

Plastic shopping bags, colored plastic bottles and just plain garbage litter the floor at Tampa's recycling transfer station. It's part of a study looking at what people recycle.

Thirty-seven percent of what's being found is contaminating the process of getting used containers, paper and cardboard to recycling plants. That means metal cans and glass are OK — but many plastics aren't.

Steve Newborn
Mark Wilfalk

Mark Wilfalk directs Tampa’s Department of Solid Waste & Environmental Program Management.

"Our goal is really to try and promote that message about what is and what isn't recyclable," Wilfalk said. "So some of the materials that our ratepayers may be used to recycling are no longer accepted in the programs.

"So we ask people to look at the arrows at the bottom of plastic containers —with either ones or twos on them — and put those in the recycling bin."

The city will start a campaign to educate the public about what should — and shouldn't — get tossed in the recycling bin.

Steve Newborn
Workers sort through Tampa's recycled materials

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