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Procurement

Contaminated Material Puts Strain on Recycling Operations

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Around 270 tons of recyclable material goes through Seminole County Central Transfer Station every week.

Those that run the facility are trying to get the word out about what you can and can’t recycle.   


What You Need To Know

  • Seminole County Transfer Station processes about 270 tons of recycling every week
  • 20 percent of material collected cannot be recycled
  • The biggest problem is people putting their recycling in plastic bags

Jeff Waters is a manager for the Seminole County Solid Waste Management Division. 

“Somebody has done a good job to segregate and put it in their bin,” he said. “Then they deliver the entire container in this plastic bag. So, now all of this is garbage.”

Waters said around 20 percent of the material coming in for recycling is contaminated, meaning it can’t be recycled. 

“It’s all contained in a plastic bag. So, this here is contaminated,” said Waters. 

He said one of the biggest problems is residents putting recycled material in plastic bags.   

“We don’t know what’s in that bag and it’s a safety issue to open the bag to find or pull out recycled materials inside,” said Waters. 

So, the whole bag gets thrown into the garbage pile — defeating the purpose of separating it for recycling.    

And Waters says contamination also contributes to the cost of recycling.   

Sanford leaders have posted several times on social media that they’re having “major issues” with recycling contamination which “must be resolved.” 

They say they’re making every effort to continue their recycling program.   

Waters said some residents will also mix their garbage with recycled material.  

“I’m not sure if I should open this. Still has grease. That should be garbage,” said Waters. 

He said keep it simple when it comes to curbside recycling — only put paper products, plastic, aluminum or glass containers into bins.    

“We still need our residents to play a vital role in only placing the materials at the curb that they know is part of the program,” said Waters. 

In Seminole County, if you put an item out for recycling that can’t be recycled, garbage haulers will leave it with a tag, which will tell you what are acceptable recycled materials.

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