Recycle Florida Today Environmental Sustainability

Award Finalists

Recycle Florida Today, Inc. would like to recognize those with outstanding programs in the business of recycling.  The R.F.T.E.S. award displays outstanding programs and/or businesses in the field of recycling and environmental sustainability.  Pursuing significantly increased awareness and the ability to motivate others to maximize their recycling, composting, grass-roots efforts, waste reduction, sustainability efforts and improving their recycling rates through education, outreach and by example.

Click each link to review the individual programs below and then vote for your favorite in each category that you feel is deserving of a 2016 Recycle Florida Today Environmental Sustainability Award – R.F.T.E.S.


Public or Non-Profit Program Finalist (click each link below to review the individual program) 

  1. Emerald Coast Utilities Authority Biosolids Composting Facility

  2. Pinellas County Solid Waste Program

  3. Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County 25 Gallon Bin Pilot

  4. Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County Education Outreach Campaign

  5. University of Florida Organic Waste Diversion


Private Program Finalist (click each link below to review the individual program)

  1. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Recycling Efforts

  2. Waste Management Partnership with Monroe County of Zero Waste Program


Individual Program Overview (in alphabetical order)

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Recycling Efforts – At Busch Gardens Tampa Bay our attention to recycling efforts is a high priority. With a 40 percent recycling rate, we recycled almost 6 million pounds of waste in 2015. Our efforts can be broken down into two categories: “In park” and behind the scenes. Throughout the theme park we have found creative ways to engage our guest in our recycling efforts. Our guests have aided us in recycling 119,000 pounds of plastic and aluminum with our 250 in-park recycling receptacles. We provide other opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle by selling reusable cups at many of our in park restaurants. Out of the 371 thousand reusable cups we sold our guest refilled them 334 thousand times, saving 334 thousand plastic cups from being used. In addition, Busch Gardens Tampa has reused building materials from our now defunct Gwazi roller coaster in building projects at our sister parks in Orlando. Since 1995, one of our greatest behind-the-scenes recycling efforts is composting. With more than 12,000 animals on property, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay recycles over 3,000,000 million pounds of manure yearly, which we used in our state certified composting site. The waste is then used in various ways throughout our park, like in the construction of one of our most popular thrill rides, Cheetah Hunt. We also give compost away for free to our employees and members of the community further encouraging the cyclical care of our planet. Our compost is also used in our browse farm, which we use to help nourish our animals. But it doesn’t stop there. At Busch Gardens we recycle several other products such as cardboard, wooden pallets, scrap metal, and cooking oil. Check out our impressive numbers below: Recycled Material Quantities 2015 Weight (Lbs) Manure: 3,340,160 Yard waste: 1,092,260 Baled Cardboard: 466,330 Pallets: 387,700 Mixed Scrap Metal (Ferris, Non Ferris) : 433,166 Commingle plastic, aluminum: 119,320 Waste Cooking Oil: 64,568 Lead Acid Batteries: 14,580 Electronics Waste: 13,892 Used Oil: 19,590 Tires: 8,440 Office Paper: 6,556 Paint Waste recycled: 742 Total Recycling: 5,967,304 Total Waste Disposed & Recycled 14,657,926 Recycling Rate 40.71% We hope this demonstrates our organization’s sincere commitment to taking care of the planet.


Emerald Coast Utilities Authority Biosolids Composting Facility – The Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) is a local government body, existing under the laws of the State of Florida. The powers of the ECUA are exercised by a five-member Board. ECUA provides garbage, yard waste, and recycling collection to Escambia County (EC). Additionally, ECUA also owns and manages the water and wastewater systems for EC and the City of Pensacola. The Mission of the ECUA is to promote the quality of life of the Emerald Coast by providing water, wastewater, and sanitation services in an effective and efficient manner. The origins of ECUA’s Biosolids Composting Facility (BCF) can be traced back to the planning phases of its Central Water Reclamation Facility (CWRF), which opened on September 30, 2010. Plans for a composting facility were included in the original design for the facility; however, were originally dropped to reduce costs. In 2011, ECUA conducted a study to determine the feasibility of constructing the BCF adjacent to the CWRF. At the time, ECUA was drying its biosolids using a natural gas-fired paddle dryer system located at the CWRF. The dryers were processing biosolids from all three of ECUA’s treatment plants – a total of 120 wet tons of biosolids per day, with a solids content of 16-18%. The dried biosolids were marketed through a third-party vendor as a granular fertilizer product. However, the energy costs of operating these dryers became prohibitively expensive (approximately $90,000 per month in 2011). At the same time, ECUA was paying about $10 per ton to dispose of its residential yard waste at Rolling Hills landfill, a Class III, private landfill, which at the time was the most cost effective option. In early 2015, the Rolling Hills permit was revoked, forcing ECUA to pay nearly three times as much ($27.69 per ton) to dispose of yard waste at the EC-owned Perdido Landfill, which is a Class I Landfill with Landfill Gas to Energy. While the high costs of current practices were the push towards the BCF, ECUA was driven by the knowledge that it could put its biosolids material to a higher and better use to create a compost product. By 2014, ECUA was well on its way to planning, designing, and developing a 24.5-acre site that would become the BCF. They met the goals of their mission by turning a costly operational issue (land applying biosolids and disposing of yard waste) into an innovative and environmentally effective solution by opening up a biosolids compost facility in 2015 and making and selling a compost product, Emerald Coast bloom, by the spring of 2016.


Pinellas County Solid Waste Program – Pinellas County Solid Waste has a strong outreach program that is focused on protecting our sole solid waste facility as well as working towards the State of Florida 75% recycling goal. Due to the high percentage of waste generated in the County by our commercial entities and the fact that Pinellas County does not have a business/occupational license program, most businesses do not come into contact with a County representative to receive information about waste handling. Therefore, Pinellas County Solid Waste has tried to maximize our waste management message to our business community. The expanded program described in this nomination has allowed for our recycling outreach to increase exponentially, providing benefits to Pinellas County and the businesses as well.


Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County 25 Gallon Bin Pilot – The Solid Waste Authority’s 25 gallon recycling bin pilot program was an innovative method of test methods to increase recycling tonnage while keeping contamination low.


Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County Education Outreach Campaign – The Solid Waste Authority’s public outreach campaign is multifaceted and effective, reaching large and diverse audiences with targeted information. I am nominating this program because it is a unique and powerful example of effective public education.


University of Florida Organic Waste Diversion – UF is the first institution in Florida to compost paper towels. The food waste composting program has exploded in the past 2 years and growing larger all the time.


Waste Management Partnership with Monroe County of Zero Waste Program – This is the first zero waste program in Monroe County, for the the Waldoff-Astoria global organization and for the SE Florida Climate Summit.