NewsPinellas County


Safety Harbor residents may see recycling pickup fee hike if city leaders can't find alternative

Posted at 7:04 PM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 19:54:28-05

SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. -- People in one Tampa Bay area city may have to shell out more money if they want to recycle.

“We actually recycle more physical quantity and we do garbage these days,” said Jim Fairman, who lives in Safety Harbor with his wife Sandy.

It used to be free to the city but now, it’s going to cost Safety Harbor $110 for every ton picked up.

“Cities across the entire country are dealing with this. If you Google this issue, you can see this is nationwide,” said Joe Ayoub, Mayor of Safety Harbor.

He says that’s because China used to take a huge chunk of the nations plastics but is no longer accepting it.

“We’ve traveled internationally, and so many countries you see garbage floating in the rivers and lakes in the oceans and that’s not OK,” said Fairman. “We need to take care of it.”

Right now, the recyclables taken from Safety Harbor are brought to a facility in Ybor City, where they are turned into other items. In Pinellas County, they turn recyclables into electricity.

The “waste to energy” facility takes things like metal, glass, plastic, paper and cardboard and creates enough electricity to power 45,000 homes a day.

They say the gas is produced by state of the art pollution control systems. It would only cost the city $40 a ton.

“Waste is already being burned, and converted into energy. It just plugging into a process it’s already there,” said Ayoub.

But he says the county may be pushing back.

”I think they’re going to make the argument that it’s going to reduce the life of the landfills since some byproducts won’t be able to be turned into energy and will have to go into the landfill,” said Ayoub.

And after posting about the idea to Facebook - not all residents are on board.

“Some people are willing to pay extra to continue recycling in the traditional sense and some people don’t wanna pay a penny more,” Ayoub said.

But, the Fairmans believe the city should go through with it.

“If you don’t do Pinellas County, even for part of it, it will all end up in a landfill so I don’t buy that argument,” said Fairman.

The city will meet with county officials January 6 before making any official decision.