Recycle Florida Today, Inc. (RFT) celebrates outstanding programs and an individual award for our 2021 Recycle Florida Today Environmental Sustainability Awards, better known as the RFTES. This year the association relaunched their individual awards with the Pinnacle Award for Industry Excellence with Barbara Heineken of Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) being awarded as this year’s recipient. The RFTES Pinnacle Award for Industry Excellence recognizes individual members that exemplify excellence in the areas of advancing recycling, resource conservation, sustainable and environmental stewardship in Florida through source reduction and waste prevention, (reduction, reuse, recycling, composting), and legislative advocacy. The award is meant to honor Recycle Florida Today, Inc. members who have made an extraordinary contribution to the industry.
In addition, three Florida programs won organizational awards for their outstanding efforts in waste reduction and recycling efforts as winners of the Recycle Florida Today Environmental Sustainability Awards, RFTES for short. Emerald Coast Utilities Authority and Collier County Solid Waste and Recycling, tied for the Outstanding Public Program of the Year awards, and Atlas Organics awarded the Outstanding Private Program of the Year award. Progarms in these categories pursue 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.
This year’s winners highlighted efforts to divert organic waste to create compost that can be used in agriculture, a municipality foam recycling program, and a local residential curbside recycling program.
The ECUA launched its Residential Curbside Recycling Program in 2009. Guided by its Mission Statement and corresponding Core Values of Environmental Stewardship, Quality Service, and Reasonable Price, the Public Information staff developed a focused public education/public information campaign to ensure residents not only embraced the program at its inception but continued to participate through ease of use and convenience. Our goal at the program’s launch was to reach a 20% level of participation by the first 6 months of the program, 40% by year 1, and 50 % by the end of the program’s second year. Remarkably, ECUA met their initial goal of 20% customer participation within the third week of operation. ECUA surpassed each goal milestone and continued to increase participation each year since the inception of the program. Today, we have reached a 77% rate of participation among ECUA customers.
In 2015, the ECUA developed its own Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) to establish a secure and reliable source for processing recyclables. The 53,460 square-foot single stream MRF is capable of processing 25 tons-per-hour, and now serves as a regional facility, providing vital processing services for other municipalities in Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle.
Collier County Solid Waste and Recycling shared that foam could take over 50 years to break down. That’s probably one reason, when they polled or surveyed their residents and customers, the most requested service was foam recycling. Kari Hodgson of Collier County Solid Waste shared that they have some pretty hard-working team members, so with the demand so high, they sought how to fulfill this request. Team members, Chase Harrison and Taylor Sawatzky found a grant offered by Food Packaging Institute’s Foam Recycling Coalition for $50k for foam recycling. The organization’s mission is to encourage the recycling of foam food service packaging and efforts to extend other foam recycling programs. In April 2020, we went to our commissioners and requested permission to apply.
With their support and Chase and Taylors hard work, Collier County was the recipient of the foam recycling grant that was used to purchase the XT200E foam densifying machine. The machine melts down Grade A and B foam using radiant (contactless) heat. The foam densifier can process up to 200 pounds of foam per hour. The processed foam is subsequently made into products like molding and picture frames. Their 3-month pilot from October 2020 to January 2021, resulted in the collection of more than 3,000 pounds of foam from over 1,400 customers. They continued their marketing throughout the county and on January 1, 2021, they began accepting foam at all their recycling centers! Since then, they have collected more than 10,000 pounds of foam from over 8,000 customers and continues to process the foam at their North Collier Recycling Drop off Center.
Atlas Organics is proud to have been awarded the 2021 Recycle Florida Today Sustainability Award. They look to forward to servicing the needs of Floridians in Indian River County, Tampa, and beyond. Atlas Organics mission is to divert organic waste and to create a high-quality compost product that can be used in agriculture, land development, residential landscaping, nurseries, golf courses, sports fields and more. They are a member of the US Composting Council and their compost in Indian River is both STA Certified and OMRI listed. Stefan Holt of Atlas Organics shard that Atlas is passionate about their mission and continue to grow using the latest in science and technology. They are excited to see the impact they can make with the help of residents and communities in the Sunshine State.
Congratulations to this year’s award winners. Join us in celebrating their accomplishments as well as take time to become knowledgeable about each of their programs. Read more about their individual programs and view their presentation at: https://recyclefloridatoday.org/and-the-winners-are-2021-rftes-award-winners/