Hillsborough County Recycling Coordinator Travis Barnes was there to clarify updated guidelines for acceptable items for the blue carts. He acknowledged the confusion the new guidelines are causing because they are different from those distributed two years ago, when the county “wheeled out” its automated collection program. He attributed the changes and refinements to experiences of Progressive Waste Solutions, the company that holds the county recycling contract.
There were some surprises about items that should and should not be put in the blue carts. Plastic bags and packaging film should NOT be placed in the containers; Barnes demonstrated how plastic can cause shutdowns by becoming tangled in the equipment.
Another biggie is that Styrofoam and shredded paper cannot be recycled by Progressive because they become confetti in the process. His advice was to take plastic bags and Styrofoam to stores with recycle receptacles, and he explained that those items go to plants that can accommodate them. Shredded paper should go in the regular trash carts.
There were other surprises. We should recycle completely empty glass and plastic bottles/jars and aluminum/steel/tin cans, but only those that had contained food or beverages (and they should be rinsed if heavily soiled to avoid bale contamination). And we should NOT crush metal/plastic containers since that confuses their laser-based sorting process. Aerosol cans containing chemicals, such as WD-40, can injure plant workers when they are not completely empty. He advised that those items should go in the gray trash cart or be taken to the South County area collection sites at Gibsonton and Wimauma, along with paint and other chemicals. Those materials are sent to facilities equipped to handle hazardous waste. Barnes’ advice for the blue carts: “If in doubt, leave it out.”
Sun Radio 96.3 FM will air an interview with Barnes on May 12 at 11 a.m. on the About the Town segment hosted by Dana Dittmar. The show will also be streamed live at www.wscqfm.com. For information, email email@example.com
A Tampa Bay Community Network interview with Hillsborough County Recycling Coordinator Travis Barnes will also be aired in May on the “Spotlight on Government” segment. Show times are Mondays, May 23 and June 6, at 8 p.m. (Verizon 30, Bright House 639); and Wednesdays, May 25 and June 8, at 7:30 p.m. (Verizon 30 and Bright House 638). Observer News columnist Bill Hodges is host for the TBCN community outreach series. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also view recycling information and a video tour of the Progressive plant at www.hillsboroughcounty.org/recycling.