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~State recycling rate takes modest steps toward the 75 percent goal by 2020~

TALLAHASSEE New 2012 recycling data released by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection shows Florida's official recycling is 48 percent, up from 30 percent in 2011. This year marks the first time solid waste converted to fuel was counted toward the statewide recycling rate.

Renewable energy credits are calculated based on the amount of electricity produced using waste as a fuel. Per Florida Statutes, each megawatt-hour of electricity produced by waste equals one ton of recycling. For 2012, there were 3.7 million megawatt-hours of electricity produced from both waste-to-energy facilities and the use of landfill gas. The Statute was amended by the Florida Legislature in 2012 to promote the production of renewable energy from solid waste.

Since this is the first year the Department is using the renewable energy data to determine the total recycling rate, it is also important to recognize gains in the traditional recycling rate without the new renewable energy credits. The traditional recycling rate also increased in 2012, increasing by five percent from 30 percent to 35 percent.

“As we get closer to the 2020 deadline for the 75 percent recycling goal, we need all Floridians to step up recycling efforts,” said Division of Waste Management Director Jorge Caspary. “While we have made modest improvements, in order to reach this goal, the commercial sector must amplify its recycling efforts.”

In 2008, the Florida Legislature first established a new statewide recycling goal of 75 percent to be achieved by 2020. In order for Florida to reach its 75 percent goal, the Department is urging all sectors, especially the commercial sector, to actively increase its recycling efforts. Commercial municipal solid waste accounts for approximately 55 percent of the total municipal solid waste stream in Florida. However, less than half of the commercial solid waste in Florida is being recycled according to the 2012 annual report. Increasing commercial recycling would have a substantial positive effect on the recycling numbers as a whole.

The Department is again promoting its Recycling Recognition Program and attempting to bring more awareness, particularly to commercial recycling efforts throughout Florida. It is crucial that businesses, schools and other commercial recyclers increase their recycling efforts. The Department has an easy tool for companies to input data, track and compare their recycling efforts to that of other businesses -- the Florida DEP Business Recycling Tracking Tool.

According to the updated report, and looking at the traditional recycling rates, Alachua County remains atop the list of counties in the state for the third consecutive year. Hillsborough County made a significant improvement, increasing its traditional recycling rate from 28 percent in 2011 to 40 percent in 2012. Also making notable improvements is Broward County, jumping from 26 percent in 2011 to 37 percent in 2012. For total recycling rates including renewable energy credits, Lee and Martin Counties have the top two total recycling rates at 75 and 74 percent, respectively.

Top 10 Traditional Recycling Rates, by County:

1. Alachua, 54 percent
2. Martin, 49 percent
3. Sarasota, Brevard, 47 percent
4. Lee, St. Lucie, 44 percent
5. Leon, 43 percent
6. Duval, 42 percent
7. Orange, 41 percent
8. Hillsborough, Collier, 40 percent
9. Putnam, Escambia, 39 percent
10. Broward, 37 percent

Top 10 Total Recycling Rates, by County:

1. Martin, 75 percent
2. Lee, 74 percent
3. Hillsborough, 69 percent
4. Hendry, 67 percent
5. Pinellas, 63 percent
6. Pasco, 62 percent
7. Monroe, Broward, 59 percent
8. Alachua, 55 percent
9. Palm Beach, 54 percent
10. Collier, 51 percent

To view the complete 2012 Municipal Solid Waste Annual Report, click here.

For more information on the Department's Recycling Recognition Program, click here.