30A is hosting a community meeting on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. at the South Walton Campus of Northwest Florida State College.
109 Greenway Trail (off Hwy. 331)
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
We’ll be in room 120.
If you aren’t able to attend, but are still interested in participating, we will broadcast the meeting live on our 30A Facebook page. You will be able to comment and ask questions from wherever you are watching! The broadcast will begin at 5:30 p.m. C.S.T.
Here’s what will be covered:
HELP US CREATE A SUSTAINABLE AND COMPREHENSIVE RECYCLING PROGRAM IN WALTON COUNTY
Why is The 30A Company getting involved?
- We love our home
- We saw the need
- We feel we can use our voice to bring the right people together to begin to work on a long-term solution
- We feel we can make a small difference in people’s everyday lives through products we produce, ideas we share and campaigns we promote
Why are we all here today?
- Recognize there is a problem, education about the issue
- Gather actionable items we can all do in the short-term
- Start to develop a long-term strategy to reduce, reuse and recycle more
- Bring people together to work to solve the issue
Gene Jones is CEO of Southern Waste Information Exchange (SWIX), a non-profit organization which has been operating since 1981 assisting businesses and municipalities with their waste management issues.
Jeff Massey, Solid Waste Manager for Walton County, oversees the county’s landfill, solid waste transfer station, vegetative debris operation and recycling program.
Fact about Recycling in Walton County:
Walton County’s recycling program collects recyclables in three ways:
- Pulling recyclable materials from the landfill through a county jail worker program
- Collecting recyclable materials from recycling trailers located throughout the county
- Bailing and recycling cardboard collected by Waste Management
In 2016, Walton County collected 1,477 tons of recyclable materials (1,093 tons from recycling trailers and cardboard bailing operation and 384 tons from the landfill program).
Financing for solid waste collection and recycling in Walton County is unique. The programs are paid for using a percentage of sales taxes collected. Individual users do not pay a waste collection bill of any kind.
Through initial research and discussions with private companies, county officials and experts, we think there are a few action steps we can take immediately and in the near future to impact recycling this year and in the years to come.
- Education about recycling trailer locations and what materials can be recycled there (Note: download the 30A App, click on the menu in the upper left corner and scroll down to RECYCLE DROP-OFF. The app will use your location to find the nearest recycling trailer.)
- Finding suitable locations for more recycling trailers
- Calling similarly sized counties in Florida with higher recycling rates and researching what methods they are using
- Petitioning the county to request a quote from Waste Management for cost of curbside pick-up in Walton County (to see what the cost would even be)
- Getting vacation rental companies and homeowners associations together to see what ways they could increase recycling (private pickup, facilitating their own pick-up programs, negotiating with Waste Management, etc.)
- Outreach to grow this group of interested community members
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Join 30A Recycling group on Facebook.
Contact us at email@example.com for updates about the initiative.
Let us know if you’d like to get more involved! We need volunteers and people to head up committees. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know!
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle whenever you can.
We’re also excited to announce that we have worked with Walton County officials to integrate a new feature into our 30A App for iPhone and Android. When you open the App, click on the menu tab in the top left. On the drop-down menu, select RECYCLE DROP-OFF SPOTS. Using your location, the App will tell you the closest recycling trailer to where you are. So cool! We hope this will help people access current recycling options in the area. Please spread the word. (You can also find a list of the locations here.)
Here’s an announcement about the initiative from 30A’s founder Mike Ragsdale:
The back story:
With about 60,000 residents and 3.2 million visitors each year, Walton County, Florida — where The 30A Company was born — doesn’t just produce the beautiful beach sunsets we’ve become famous for. We also make a lot of trash… about 96,000 tons annually.
And while Walton County has several successful programs in place to try to recycle and reuse as much as we can, including collecting recyclables from the dump as trash comes in, we still only recycle about one to three percent of our trash each year.
The 30A Company wants to do something to help change that, but we need your help. We know it won’t be an easy process, but we think it’s time to rekindle the conversation, and, as we’ve heard from many fans over the years, we think you’re ready to pitch in, too.
The current state
Here’s a recap.
Walton County is already working hard to reduce the amount of trash we produce. We have 30 recycling trailers where residents and visitors can take their recyclables for pick up. (You can find a list of all locations here.)
Also, through a work program in conjunction with the Walton County prison, inmates sort through collected trash and pull out any materials that can be recycled or reused. In the last few years, the county has launched two additional initiatives: recycling clothing and holding public sales to find new owners for large, salvageable goods pulled from the landfill including sporting goods, desks and other items.
A few small privately run recycling pick-up services have also popped up to help address the massive problem, including Blu Binz and EZ PZ Recycling. (NOTE: If you are aware of additional recycling programs in Walton County, please let us know so we can include them.)
Despite our community’s efforts to-date, we still have a long way to go.
Every person in the United States produces about 4.3 pounds of trash a day, according to government officials.
When on vacation, as you buy many more disposable items, that number is often much higher, which leads to its own set of problems.
For example, let’s say each visitor here produces 35 pounds of trash a week during the high season in the spring and summer. We’re easily talking about 56,000 tons of extra garbage collected here in Walton County during just four months out of the year.
In fact, trash collection during the spring and summer months in Walton County increases so much that trash collectors have enough on their hands just to keep up, never mind sorting it and separating recyclables.
“They try to get as much as they can, but the amount coming in almost makes it impossible to keep up with,” said Louis Svehla, a spokesman for the county.
Looming large over the whole issue is one major initiative that helps substantially increase recycling rates in other communities — curbside pick-up.
In 2012, Walton County officials led a series of workshops about recycling. People who attended expressed strong interest in developing a curbside program, but the conversation didn’t go very far.
During that time, a pilot project was introduced but abandoned after costs seemed too high for what information the pilot project would have been able to produce.
One of the major complicating factors is that public trash service here is completely financed through Walton County. Costs are covered through a 1-percent sales surtax, meaning individuals don’t have a separate monthly trash bill. Costs can’t easily be passed on to the consumer, even if the consumer wants the extra service.
Dollars and sense
Trash collection in Walton County already costs about $7.8 million a year. Boosting recycling efforts will clearly require some additional financial investment, but who says we can’t get creative and find a way? We know the benefits: conserving our limited resources and materials, keeping our air and water cleaner, reducing the need for landfill space and more.
The 30A Company has already committed to this goal: We recently launched our new ‘dumpster diver’ clothing line, made from recycled plastic. Each shirt saves about eight plastic bottles from a landfill in the southeast. We also banned disposable water bottles from our 30A offices and sell a whole line of reusable drink containers.
But we know this is just a small start. Increasing our ability to reuse and recycle both at home and on vacation will have a significant impact on our environment and our lives. This effort will require tough discussion, creative thinking and dedication over the long haul, but let’s get it going. The only time to start is now.