Jacksonville landfill piles up beyond budget, council considers recycling education campaign

·3 min read

Trash at Jacksonville’s only landfill is piling up beyond this year’s budgeted amount. The City of Jacksonville’s Public Works department said the curbside recycling pause last year could be partially to blame.

City council has two bills on the table to help curb the problem.

$3.3 million would be appropriated to handle the extra expenses at the Trail Ridge Land Fill in West Jacksonville.

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The City budgeted for 799,000 tons of waste. However, according to the bill, new projections show the landfill will have 916,428 tons for the fiscal year. That’s a difference of more than 117,000 tons.

Action News Jax first reported in January that this could be a possible scenario.

Also Read: INVESTIGATES: Jacksonville’s decision to suspend recycling collection is adding up at the dump

City Council Vice President Ron Salem said the other problem is increased waste as a result of people tossing stuff out during the pandemic.

Salem said residents are starting to get back to recycling now months after the City has returned to curbside. He explained about 65% of residents recycle, but he wants to see more.

Another bill on the table, which he sponsored, asks the city to match a $560,000 grant for a recycling education campaign.

“I’m hoping, through these efforts that we can extend that life considerably. The less we put in that landfill, the longer it’s going to last,” he said.

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The life span of the landfill is estimated at 30 years. John Pappas, the director of public works, said if trash continues to pile up at this rate it could force the City to find a new landfill sooner than expected or look into other alternatives to solid waste disposal.

If passed, the funding would go towards sending educational fliers on what to recycle and what to keep in the trash. It would also pay for a report card to go to households on what residents are doing well, and what can be done better on a quarterly basis.

According to the bill, nearly 20% of Jacksonville’s recyclables are contaminated. Pappas said, “Contaminated recycled material increases the expense to the City. The “non-recyclable” contaminated material must be separated and then transported to the City’s Landfill for disposal.”

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“I’m really optimistic that they’re considering putting any kind of funding into environmental education. But I think they’re missing the mark by focusing on recycling,” Anne Marie Moquin, the founder and CEO of Beaches Go Green, said. “People think they’re doing the right thing and people want to do good and they just don’t know any better.”

She added that the money could be better spent on incentivizing businesses to go green since only about 6% of plastics are actually recycled according to national reports.

“Number one — we want to increase the participation to as high as we possibly can and we want to eliminate those items that are not recyclable from going in your bin,” Salem said.

Both bills go before council Tuesday night for a second public hearing.


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