More recycling isn't always recycling right'

Posted at 9:49 AM, Mar 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-03 10:01:59-05

Most people know the benefits of recycling, including less waste, reduced pollution, and conservation of our natural resources. It takes each of us - families, schools and communities - to join together to encourage all of us to recycle more.

Overall, more participation in local recycling programs should mean good news when it comes to waste disposal and public health. Experts, though, caution about overconfidence in recycling practices.

A 2014 Harris Poll for the National Waste and Recycling Association showed this disconnect between American’s perceived recycling knowledge and actual recycling practice:

  • 67 percent say they are clear on what materials go in to a recycling bin or cart, yet

  • 20 percent will place an item into a recycling bin or cart even if they are not completely sure it is recyclable, and

  • 9 percent admit they have put trash in a recycling bin or cart when their trash bin or cart was full.

Palm Beach County offers many recycling options

The Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County employs an integrated solid waste management system to dispose of the county’s almost 2 million tons of waste each year. And, county residents play a big role in proper waste disposal - specifically through recycling.



The SWA offers dual stream recycling. That means residents get a blue bin to recycle their plastic containers, metal cans and glass; and get a yellow bin to recycle cardboard, paper, mail and magazines. When residents wish recycle, not all items are recyclable. For instance, plastic bags and shrink wrap are never recyclable in the blue or yellow bins. They should go back to a local grocer for recycling. And, if there is a doubt if an item is recyclable, throw it out.

County residents also have options to recycle or safely dispose of their household hazardous wastes at one of seven SWA Home Chemical and Recycling Centers! These wastes include:

There are seven Home Chemical and Recycling Centers conveniently located throughout the county to collect household hazardous wastes:

  • Belle Glade, 1701 State Road 15

  • Delray Beach - East, 1901 SW 4th Ave.

  • Delray Beach - West, 13400 S. State Road 7

  • Jupiter, 14185 N. Military Trail

  • Lantana, 1810 Lantana Road

  • Royal Palm Beach, 9743 Process Way

  • West Palm Beach, 6161 N. Jog Road

Each of these centers has the equipment necessary to ensure dangerous chemicals and objects do not make their way into our communities’ land and water supply. For commercial disposal, call 561-687-1100. Medical wastes, like pharmaceuticals (drugs) and sharps (needles), have their own, very different disposal options and should not be brought to these locations.

Recycling more vs. recycling right

Local experts say there needs to be a better balance between ‘recycling more’ and ‘recycling right.’

“Of course we want more residents to recycle,” explained Willie Puz, Director of Public Affairs and Recycling for the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County in Florida. “However, its equally important to recycle right and dispose of things properly. That’s why the SWA invests so much in educating residents and businesses.”

With more than 100,000 tons per year of recyclables coming through the SWA’s processing facility, Puz warns improper disposal of waste can lead to the very problems recycling tries to solve.

“When fluorescent light bulbs are put into a garbage or recycle bin, there is a risk of their breaking,” Puz continued. “These bulbs have mercury in them. Not only is mercury a danger to our environment, but it’s an exposure risk for those that pick up the waste. Plus, there is the real possibility of someone getting injured on the glass if they aren’t expecting to handle it. We just want everyone to stay safe.”

To boost the area’s ‘recycle right’ knowledge, the SWA of Palm Beach County created an infographic for residents as a handy reference guide for what to put in curbside bins and what to bring to one of the recycling centers.

Palm Beach County residents can also visit to get more information about how to balance their efforts to not only recycle more in their blue and yellow bins, but also to ‘recycle right.’ For specific information on home chemical disposal, residents should visit