We congratulate the city of Avon Park for having a single-stream recycling system in place. It’s the only one in Highlands County.
While the county commission has so far fumbled the ball, Avon Park kept its eye on its goal making its first recyclable collection on Nov. 14. On that first run, 12 tons of paper, glass, cardboard, plastic, aluminum and other metals were collected.
The city council and manager deserve special recognition for their foresight in getting the program online.
We hope people understand the importance of recycling reusable material, especially plastic, which of course is a petroleum product. The more plastic we reuse, the less oil we need from foreign sources.
At the same time, we understand how many citizens have been discouraged from recycling because right now the different materials have to sorted and then delivered to recycling containers, often a distance from home.
By investing $190,000 in home recycling bins that allow materials to be mixed together — at no additional cost to the taxpayer — Avon Park has made it easy for residents to become key players in saving the city money.
Not only that, in a world with dwindling resources, turning those that are non-renewable into reusable materials is simply good sense.
The Florida legislature understands that. It has mandated that 75 percent of a county’s solid waste be recycled by 2020 and we need to be ready. The sooner Highlands County, Sebring and Lake Placid join Avon Park, the more we contribute to our own well being, and the more money we’ll save.
In addition to eliminating tipping fees at the landfill, for example, the less bulk delivered to the landfill, the longer its useful life.
If a city the size of Avon Park can get a program up and running, there is no excuse for the other governments to be so far behind the curve. This is not, however a government responsibility alone. Public pressure is essential to getting things done.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in 2010 — the latest available figure — Highlands County ranks in the middle of the 67 counties, recycling about 125,000 tons that year.
By comparison, Miami-Dade recycled 3.5 million tons of material, while Liberty County recycled the least, only about 350,000 pounds.
We may sometimes be at the mercy of elected officials, but single-stream recycling is something we can control and should. Call your county commissioners and city councilors to demand action.
Avon Park residents should call their city, too, only they get to say, “Well done and thank you.”