After home recycling pickup was halted June 3 by the city of Bradenton, Manatee County residents wondered if the county could be far behind in stopping the service.
However, Manatee County Solid Waste Division Manager Rob Shankle said the county has no plans to change its recycling pickup.
“We're quite happy with our program right now,” Shankle said. "We put a lot of effort into educating the public, and we work with haulers to identify problem areas, and we address them.”
City of Bradenton officials announced in April it was shutting down home pickup of recyclable materials, citing contamination levels of 60% in its loads, as well as insufficient manpower. City residents can drop off their recyclables at designed centers.
Shankle said any delay Manatee County has had in picking up recycling had been due to unexpected illnesses that have led to staffing shortages. He said Manatee County hasn't experienced the high percentage of contaminated loads as the city has.
“We continually educate our folks on keeping the materials clean and putting in the right materials, and that’s the best way to attack the contamination rates,” he said. "There’s a fine margin in what we can use the commodities for, and if they’re not clean and sorted properly, it really creates a problem.”
Among the most common contaminants are plastic bags, wet materials, bottles containing liquids and plastic hangers.
County Commissioner George Kruse said he is satisfied with the county’s recycling program and will continue to support it as long as it makes financial sense.
Commissioner James Satcher said the recycling program has an important environmental impact.
“My hope is that we can recycle as much as much of our household materials as possible," Satcher said. "I am always looking for options that make sense for the taxpayer, and that help the environment.”
Shankle seconded that thought.
“Recycling is an important part of what we do for the community," Shankle said. "It saves landfill airspace, which is a highly costly item. But you’re not making money off recycling. That's not what that business is about. It's more about protecting the environment and saving resources for the citizens of Manatee County.”