In what is truly a sign that a new era is upon us, a state other than California has set a staggeringly ambitious recycling goal. Earlier this year, Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed into law a bill that calls for the state to achieve a 75 percent recycling rate by the year 2020.
The Florida Energy, Climate Change and Economic Security Act of 2008 orders the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop a plan to achieve the recycling goal and submit it to the Florida Legislature for approval by Jan. 1, 2010. To aid in the formulation of its plan, the DEP is asking the public and interested parties to contribute their ideas. Those who want to submit comments and ideas — as well as find information on related public meetings — can do so at www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/recyclinggoal75/.
No doubt that Florida officials have presented themselves with a formidable challenge: According to reports, the state's recycling rate currently rests at 25 percent. But if Floridians need inspiration, all they need to do is look at California. In 1989, the state set a goal of a 50 percent recycling rate. The idea was seen as perhaps a little whacky, but in 2006, the state announced that it had achieved its goal.
One of the state's largest cities — San Francisco — is going even further. San Fran wants to divert 75 percent of its trash from landfills by the end of this decade. The city's diversion rate currently is about 70 percent, according to reports.
In an effort to achieve the goal, San Francisco officials are trying to pass mandatory composting and recycling laws. Under the proposal, residents would be required to correctly place waste in one of three bins — one for trash, one for recyclables or one for compostable waste. Failure to put waste in the appropriate bin could result in a $100 fine.
Whether Florida or San Francisco can meet their goals remains to be seen, of course, but they should be applauded for the attempt. In this era of environmental concerns, growing populations and shrinking space for new disposal sites, communities must explore new waste management methods. Kudos to those leading the charge.