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Polk Waste and Recycling says "no" to many items with new recycling process

Posted at 4:30 PM, Nov 17, 2017

New recycling restrictions in Polk County have thousands upset and confused.

Water bottles, glass and other times are no longer being accepted.

“Every Sunday you know you took them up there and we got better at it and better at it,” Joseph Woznicki said it took years to learn to get in the habit.

It’s not second nature to separate your trash, but we’ve become accustomed to it, for those trying to save the Earth.

But, now Polk County is saying “no” to many items we’ve been recycling for years.

“It just has gotten terrible, so I turn back in my can a couple weeks ago,” Woznicki said he’s given up because of all the confusion. 

According to Polk County Waste and Recycling Management, there aren't any commercial manufactures in Florida accepting consumer glass for recycling purposes. Glass bottles and jars have very little value because it often breaks and because there are too many colors.

When it comes to plastic, Polk County Waste and Recycling says the plastic packaging is evolving rapidly and with so many types of plastics they do not mix well when trying to create a new product. The only type of plastic Polk County will be accepting now is plastic with the same consistency of a milk jug.

“I just can’t support it anymore and they told me basically we just throw it in the landfill and it’s going to be a bank and we can dig the stuff up later,” Woznicki said.

Waste and Recycling Director, Ana Wood, explained that just because you put it in the recycling bin does not mean it will make it’s way into a new and reusable product.

“Putting it at the curb is not recycling. What we are doing now is ensuring that our customers understand the process and we are harvesting the materials from waste that will literally have a new day as a new product,” Wood said.

While glass and certain plastic are indeed reusable, ABC Action News asked Wood if it’s strictly bottom line.

“We are actually taking the environmental first and then the bottom line because if we do not have products that are destined to come back to us we are not doing justice to the Earth,” Wood said.

Residents, though, don’t buy that they are doing it just for the environment.

“I would like to know how much it actually costs for us to put it all in the landfill and take care of it,” Althea, a Polk County resident said to ABC Action News as she walked out of the commission room. Althea said she was disgusted in the explanation.

The county says it’s not limiting the items that we will recycle, it is streamlining the process.

According to Waste and Recycling the goal is to effectively collect materials which have the potential to successfully be reused into a new product. 

But resident say the new process likely won’t work.

“Everybody is still just going to dump stuff in there and think oh I am recycling, but if you follow their rules that you told you know you can’t hardly put any plastic in there,” Woznicki said.

If you have any questions about the new process you can look the answers up here.