A state-of-the-art Recycling Center, perhaps the most modern in Florida, is coming to Marco Island. That’s good news for people who need to dispose of almost anything. And it’s good news for the environment.
It’s easy to find, on East Elkcam Circle, just across the street from the old transfer center. But it looks much different, with sleek lines and a nice old Florida style roof. At first glance it looks more like a mini-storage facility than a place to get rid of everything from cardboard to household hazardous materials.
“It’s less than half the land space we had in the old place, so it’s been a design challenge to make it all fit and still get traffic in and out,” says Collier County Solid Waste spokesperson Margie Hapke.
This spiffy new facility will mainly serve Marco Island, plus the area up Collier Boulevard to U.S. 41, Tamiami Trail.
“We’ll take everything at the new center,” says Jon Ogle, the solid waste operations manager for the county.
“That includes batteries, engine oil, bio mass (yard waste), newspapers, cardboard, latex paint, hazardous materials such as bleach and other cleaning materials, paper, plastic, florescent bulbs and more.”
Ogle notes that florescent bulbs contain mercury, “So we want to keep them out of the landfill.”
Keeping our discarded stuff out of landfills is a major goal of the solid waste experts here. As Ogle says, “Nothing we take in at the recycling center will have to go to the landfill.
“Our goal is to extend the life of the landfill and keep as much material out of it as possible. That’s one major reason we are doing this sophisticated recycling program.”
One example is the handling of paint.
“Scott Paint [Company] will pick up our paint and recycle it in the paint can. That paint then can be reused,” Ogle explains.
This recycling center on Marco will fill a gap between the older center just off Airport Road near the Naples Airport and a third transfer station at Carnstown, where U.S. 41 intersects with Highway 29.
“There were plans to expand and update the airport (recycling) facility,” says Ogle, “but with the budget cuts, that has been shelved for a couple of years, so we’re lucky that the focus is on the Marco center.”
Also having the new facility on Marco allows county officials to reclaim part of the off-island landfill, make it 100 percent compliant with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. For example, until about 15 years ago, the county was not required to use plastic liners to contain landfill waste. Now officials can go back into older areas and put in liners, making the landfill more sanitary and refuse easier to contain.
“A lot of places turn their landfill surfaces into parks and such, and we’re going to do the same thing here,” says Ogle.”
When can residents begin to use the new recycling center here?
The official target date for opening is April 1. But construction has been ahead of schedule.
“We’re hoping to have the final certificate of occupancy about the middle of March,” says Ogle.
“We’ll do a ‘soft’ opening and then a ‘hard’ opening, starting with getting the doors open and the word out. That way we can shake out any little initial problems. But it all depends on the weather and the contractors.”
Landscaping also is on the drawing boards, to beautify the property.
What’s the old saying? One person’s trash is another’s treasure? At least now we have a nice place for the former while retaining the environmental treasure that is Marco Island.