By the numbers, Hillsborough County's recycling program shows substantial positive environmental, community impacts.

Since its launch on Oct. 1, 2013, the single-stream recycling program has not only transformed the way residents approach recycling but has also yielded remarkable benefits for the community and the environment.

The innovative single-stream recycling program allows residents to place all recyclables in a single cart, eliminating the need for sorting items into different bins. This streamlined approach not only simplifies the recycling process for residents but also enhances the safety and efficiency for waste collection drivers.

Over the past 10 years, Hillsborough County's residential customers have contributed 606,620 tons of material for collection. Among this, an impressive 426,000 tons have been successfully recovered and recycled into new products, showcasing the program's effectiveness in diverting waste from the landfill.

The impact on landfill conservation is substantial, as the program has saved almost 1.1 million cubic yards of landfill airspace. This equates to adding nearly two years of life to the landfill, with the saved space being equivalent to 332 Olympic-sized swimming pools or 23,764 school buses.

The program has also been a friend to the trees, saving up to 3.7 million of them. The recycling of paper alone, which constitutes almost half of the recycling stream, has prevented the need to harvest approximately 219,651 tons of trees.

Using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Waste Reduction Model, the environmental impact of recycling is equally impressive compared to if the same material was landfilled. Annually, the program avoids over 114,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent gases. This is equivalent to the annual emissions from 24,240 passenger vehicles. Additionally, the program saves almost 800,000 million BTU in energy usage, equal to consuming 135,150 barrels of oil, 6,519 gallons of gasoline, or the annual energy consumption of 8,571 households.

On the economic front, the program annually generates almost $20 million in wages and contributes more than $3.6 million in taxes collected by federal, state, and local governments.

Residents have shown their commitment to recycling, with a weekly cart setout rate of an impressive 67%. However, it's important to stay informed on recycling rules. Residents are encouraged to visit and explore the Recycling Guide (available in English and Spanish) for accurate information, with a particular focus on avoiding plastic bags and bagged recycling.

Image Caption: A person carries a recycling container full of empty, rinsed, plastic bottles with no lids.
Posted: 2/20/2024, 4:44:19 PM