By Dr. Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council, District 4 City Council Rep. Mount Dora's City Council held a "Work Session" from 1:30 to just after 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday 12/8. A work session is a public meeting but it is for discussion purposes only, no votes are taken. Normally I don't report to you about items that haven't yet been acted upon but the things we discussed today could well become action items in the upcoming weeks or months. As usual please keep in mind that I have not been appointed by City Council to report to you on their behalf. I'm only one of seven council members and what follows comes from my perspective. Allow me to take a deep dive into recycling which will be on our next meeting agenda...
Waste Management (WM) is our vender for picking up and disposing of trash, recycling and yard waste. In my estimation WM has done a good job and are very service oriented. The market for recycled materials has radically changed over the past couple of years. Here's the problem.
Until a few years ago China provided a market for all sorts of recycled items including paper, cardboard, glass, metal, plastics, etc. As an example, in 2017 China accepted recycled wastepaper that contained up to 10% "contamination" but due to tightening environmental regulations in China, their new standard is a maximum of 0.3% contamination and at the same time the price they are willing to pay for recycled materials has dropped by about 2/3 or more. With falling prices and much higher quality standards recycled materials have changed from a money maker for WM to a money loser.
As a result ,WM is going to charge Mount Dora residents an additional $1.82 per month ($21.84 per year) if we choose to keep our current recycling program. WM presented us with an alternative that would help to mitigate that price increase.
There is a company called Covanta that currently operates a Waste to Energy facility that burns waste products. That facility is located in nearby Okahumpka, FL. Ferrous and non-ferrous metals would still be recycled at their plant but the garbage, yard waste and the other things that we currently put in our recycling bins would be burned to create electricity. EPA tests indicate that the Convanta facility's particulate emissions average over 90% below EPA's allowable amounts because of advanced scrubbers and high temperature burning. The State of Florida recognizes this type of Waste to Energy as a viable alternative to to recycling. Approximately 50% of all materials entering the Waste to Energy program are credited as recycling under State of Florida guidelines which is about 20% higher than traditional residential recycling programs in Florida.
I am a big proponent of recycling so I had been skeptical of this alternative but there are some additional benefits. This proposal would reduce our solid waste by 90%. That is important because WM trucks our trash all the way to a Georgia landfill which requires a lot of fuel. Currently our recycled materials are trucked from Mount Dora to WM's recycling facility near Tampa. Once sorted in Tampa those bottles, cardboard, glass, paper, etc. are shipped all the way to China.
Other nearby communities that have already begun utilizing this Waste to Energy program include The Villages, Lady Lake and Wildwood. This is probably more than you ever wanted to know about trash. I sorry to be so long winded but we will discuss and vote on this alternative at our 12/17 council meeting.
Several other topics were also discussed including; Building Department permitting services, the future uses of city owned properties and various financial items.
I've got a quote for you today from Dakota Meyer who said; "Don't take criticism from someone you wouldn't take advice from."
Please stay safe, keep wearing your masks, social distance and don't become a COVID statistic.
Marc Crail District 4, Mount Dora City Council Rep.
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