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Response has been great for last week's column on recycling. Other recycling questions and answers already lined up for this week have been postponed to give more immediate attention to follow-up queries about recycling.
Recycling seems so simple at a first glance, but because technology is ever-changing and regulations aren't universal, it has become needlessly complicated. But don't allow the complexities to turn you off.
Recycling takes some extra thought and effort, but consider its many benefits. Keep in mind that recycling saves energy, conserves natural resources, diminishes landfill needs, reduces manufacturing pollution and sustains the environment.
Q: Do the rules for what may or may not be put in the street side recycle bins you outlined on Oct. 10 apply for the pickups in the city of Naples as well as Collier County?
— Dave Pfaff, Naples
A: No, not all the rules are the same. The city of Naples's recycling program is slightly different than Collier County's.
The different government entities and recycling plants involved have many differences — from the color of the curbside carts and what goes in them to holiday pickup changes and how the items are processed.
The county's program, with the yellow-topped green carts, provides recycling services to about 112,000 residents in unincorporated areas of the county, as well as the incorporated areas of Marco Island and Everglades City, said Linda Jackson Best, the county's waste reduction and recycling manager. The recyclables are trucked to Waste Management's material recovery facility in Pembroke Pines on Florida's east coast.
The recyclables collected weekly from the city of Naples' blue carts are transported to Lee County's material recovery facility in Buckingham, east of Interstate 75, said Brad White, superintendent of Naples' Solid Waste Department, which oversees recycling collection in the city. Recycling plants process different items in slightly different ways.
"The biggest difference between the recycling programs is we do not accept plastic bags or Styrofoam," White said.
The Collier County program actually doesn't accept all plastic bags and plastic foam either. The county allows flimsy plastic shopping bags for recycling, but not plastic film bags such as sandwich bags or shrink wrap. The county will take clean plastic foam egg cartons and meat trays, but not foam cups nor packing materials.
The city does not recycle any of the items mentioned above, but many area supermarkets, such as all Publix stores, have separately marked receptacles for plastic bags and foam food trays and egg cartons.
The city, however, allows residents to put clean aluminum pie pans and foil, as well as empty aerosol cans, into recycling carts, while the county residential recycling program does not. Other specific recyclable items reported last week are the same for the city and county.
If you have questions about what you can or can't recycle at home in the Collier County service area, check the county's website at www.colliergov.net/recycles. If you live within the Naples city limits, acceptable recycling materials are listed at naplesgov.com/index.aspx?nid=561
Recycling shredded paper
Q: Related to the question about small pieces of paper in a plastic bag, what about the small pieces from my shredder? They are even smaller and more fly-away than the receipts mentioned. I have been putting the shreds in a plastic bag and then into the big container.
— Carla Grieve, Naples
Q: In Tim Aten's article on recycling in the Oct. 15 paper, he fails to mention anything about paper that was shredded in a cross-cut shredder which is usually trashed in a full plastic bag that lines the shredder receptacle. Is that one of the situations that makes it impossible to separate at the recycling center?
— Dick Tremblay, East Naples
A: Because paper from shredded documents has a tendency to blow around a lot more than other pieces of paper, it's permitted to put it in transparent plastic bags in the recycling carts, said Linda Jackson Best, Collier County's waste reduction and recycling manager.
Of course, this seems illogical, not only because it seems to contradict what was reported last week about not bagging paper scraps nor trapping paper with plastic, but also because Jackson Best admits that workers at the processing plant will have to pull the bagged paper by hand from the recycling conveyors.
However, this information was confirmed by Dawn McCormick, a spokeswoman for Waste Management, which operates the Reuter Materials Recovery Facility in Pembroke Pines, where Collier County recycling items are taken after curbside pickup.
When workers at the recovery plant see the clear bags of paper moving by on the conveyor system, they pull them off, rip them open and dump the shredded paper in one bin to be baled for recycling, while the plastic bag is discarded as waste, McCormick said.
The Lee County materials recovery facility does not accept shredded paper, so Lee or city of Naples residents should not put bags of it in recycling bins.
In Collier County, receipts or small bits of paper can be put in the bag with the shredded documents or in with other paper products to keep them from blowing around when bins are emptied.
"I suggest putting receipts in the recycle bin with other paper items such as magazines and newspapers," Jackson Best said. "If there is a receipt that contains personal information, either shred or tear it up into small pieces prior to placement in the yellow top."
Another upcoming option for city or county residents is to bring bagged paper shreds or documents to be shredded to free locally sponsored programs next month in association with a national day to promote recycling.
An America Recycles Day Reuse and Recycle event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, in the Goodwill parking lot area of Naples Town Centre, 3759 U.S. 41 E., East Naples. Secure paper shredding will be provided, and household waste such as shredded paper, medications, paints, solvents, oils, electronics and rechargeable batteries will be accepted free of charge.
Another Collier event, America Recycles Day Round-up, provides the same opportunities from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Naples Recycling Drop-off Center, 2640 Enterprise Ave. W., just north of Naples Municipal Airport on Airport-Pulling Road.
Recyclable items not welcomed in recycling carts also regularly may be taken to area recycling drop-off centers in Naples, North Naples, Marco, Immokalee and Fort Myers. For specific addresses, times of operation and lists of items accepted, follow links from the websites listed above.
The third of a three-part series of recycling questions will be answered next Monday.
Have a question about anything else local? Email it with your name and city of residence to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"In the Know" is published Mondays and Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Find a complete archive of "In the Know" columns at naplesnews.com/intheknow.