Recycling is back in Miami, but know the do’s and don’ts

Not everything is meant for the blue bin, so check before you chuck, officials say

MIAMI, Fla. – As of this week, recycling in the city of Miami is back, with residents taking to social media to express their delight, On resident posted: “This is amazing news!”

An announcement on the city’s website stated: Beginning Sept. 1, regular residential recycling service will resume on normal schedule.

“But the bad news is that the economies for recycling worldwide are upside down,” City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell said.

Russell and Miami Solid Waste Director Mario Nunez explain that recycling used to be a revenue stream. Now, for the city of Miami, it costs about $1 million a year.

“Whereas we used to get paid for our recycling materials, about $20 a ton, now we are paying $90 a ton to have our recycling processed,” Russell said.

China, a major importer of recycled goods, no longer wants our trash.

“In 2018, they came out with a national sort policy they no longer wanted to have recyclables imported from the rest of the world so it creates a worldwide gut in markets,” Nunez said.

The problem is compounded by what’s winding up in recycle bins. One-third of the material doesn’t belong there and contaminates the entire load, said Nunez. That drives up processing costs to include manual sorting.

[RELATED: Miami’s Recycling Right: Do’s and Don’ts]

For instance, Nunez said you will find a computer keyboard or mouse because people think it is plastic, but not everything that is plastic is recyclable.

The newest items ended up clogging recycling are PPE and masks. “They end up on conveyor belts and that creates a hazard to the employees,” Nunez said. Don’t throw those in recycling.

You’ll find lots of pizza boxes going into recycling, which Nunez said is a huge no-no.

Clean cardboard, yes. Pizza with leftover food in it. Definitely not.

So how do you know what should go in the blue bin?

At the bottom of any container is a number 1 or number 2, or 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7, Nunez said. If it doesn’t have a number it is not recyclable.

A good rule of thumb, too, is when in doubt, throw it out.

The city is asking for the assistance of the community to help reduce the levels of contamination.

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