By CARL MARIO NUDI
Published May 26, 2016
The days of separating glass and plastic from newspapers and magazines, then dragging those two blue bins out to the curb for recycling pickup will soon be a thing of the past.
Over a three-month period, Manatee County trash haulers will be delivering one wheeled cart to residents for all their recycling materials.
That means there will be a couple of blue bins taking up space in your carport unless you find something useful to do with them.
The Manatee County Agriculture and Extension Service has an idea or two for those containers.
You can recycle them, and they are offering to show you how.
Master Gardener John Dawson will hold a workshop, Upcycle Your Recycle Bins!, at noon, June 1, at the extension service offices, 1303 17th St. W., Palmetto.
To register for the free workshop, call the Master Gardeners at 941-722-4524 or visit upcycle_it.eventbrite.com.
“We were talking about everyone having all these blue bins,” said Samantha Kennedy, director of the county extension service.
“John is a retired engineer and has designed garden-related uses,” Kennedy said.
With a few modifications, workshop participants will be shown several versions of planters, tool bins and a water garden.
The county extension service has been part of the community for 98 years.
“Our goal is to help Manatee County citizens improve their lives through education,” said Kennedy, who has been with the service for 12 years and director since 2013.
The extension service was established nationally in 1914 and is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of Florida and Manatee County government.
Although many people think the extension service was created to help only farmers, Kennedy said it also has a mission to provide education to urban and suburban dwellers.
With a staff of 23, with five more on the way, and a volunteer corps of 400 with varying degrees of commitment, the agency provides information to help farmers get the most from their land and livestock, while going out into the community to educate families on wellness, nutrition, budgeting and other life skills.
One of the most popular programs is Master Gardener, which is obtained through intensive classes in horticulture.
Certified Master Gardeners work with extension agents as volunteers to help answer gardening questions, conduct plant clinics, participate in community beautification projects and other programs.
That is why the Upcycle Your Recycle Bin! workshop was a perfect fit for the extension service.
“This workshop will be most timely,” Kennedy said. “People will know what to do with those old bins.”
The county commission approved single-stream recycling in June 2014, and the two waste-hauler contractors, Waste Management and Waste Pro, will begin distributing the 64-gallon wheeled carts to residents starting July 11 on a progressive schedule. The last of the carts will be delivered by Sept. 30.
Residents can begin using their new carts on their next recycling pickup day.
“The good thing is that customers no longer will have to separate their recyclables,” said Amy Pilson, public affairs liaison for the county utilities department. “They will just commingle all their recyclables into the cart.”
The paper, plastic and glass will be separated at a material recovery facility.
“But it’s extremely important that residents read the information (that will come with the cart) and only place into the carts what can be recycled,” Pilson said. “If a load has one item that is not recyclable, it will contaminate the whole load and will have to be taken to the landfill.”
This defeats the purpose of recycling: to reduce the material placed into landfills.
Palmetto has been using the single-stream recycling system for several months, said Jeff Scott, Solid Waste supervisor
“It’s had its ups and downs,” Scott said of the rollout of the program, “but we have increased the recycle intake by 5 tons so far.”
For more information on the county program, visit www.mymanatee.org/recycling or call 941-792-8811.
For information on the Palmetto recycling program, call 941-723-4580.