Residents speak out against new Polk County recycling program

SAN FRANCISCO - MARCH 2: (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – Polk County residents are angry about throwing what they thought was recycling, in the trash, and they let officials know it Friday at a meeting about the new countywide recycling program.

“You’re landfill is going to fill twice as fast,” a concerned resident said at a podium in front of County Commissioners and Waste & Recycling officials.

Items like glass, plastic water bottles, colored plastics, and magazines will now head to the landfill, instead of a recycling bin.

“They say it’s easier that we do this, ok. So we will have a landfill the size of Polk County?” a resident named Althea questioned.

North Lakeland resident Joseph Woznicki told News Channel 8 he turned his new recycling container back over to the county because of the changes, and he no longer recycles.

“I just don’t support it,” Woznicki said.

County officials blame a changing global dynamic which includes China accepting less recyclables, including certain plastics, declining glass recycling, and a market oversaturated with plastic bottles.

“The market is saturated with this single-use water bottles. We generate approximately 26 million a day,” Waste & Recycling Director Ana Wood told News Channel 8.

Wood said materials that can’t be recycled ended up going through several sorting processes and still wind up in the landfill.

“There are these materials that there is either no market for, it’s contaminated, or it’s just not good stuff, and no one will either take it, or be paid to take it, and it’s going to wind up in a landfill,” said Polk County Commissioner George Lindsey.

Even after listening to experts’ reasoning behind the change, residents said they feel like officials are neglecting the future for a bottom line.

“What I heard today is, let’s fill the landfill and let our future generations come up with technology later. I don’t accept that,” a woman at the podium told officials.

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