Tampa Bay Recycles

No Bags in the Recycling

Tampa Bay Recycling Partnership Launches No Bags Campaign

Residents are the target of a regional effort to combat recycling confusion and contamination

The City of Tampa, Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, and City of St. Petersburg solid waste departments have partnered together to provide information to residents about a universal problem - plastic bags in recycling.

Curbside and residential recycling systems are only designed to process certain program items. Bagged recyclables aren’t recycled because they can’t be sorted by the recycling equipment. Plastic bags also tangle up in the sorting equipment, which causes equipment damage, creates health and safety hazards for workers, reduces the number of recyclables that can be successfully recovered, and increases the overall cost of the recycling process.

The partner regional multimedia public education campaign launched on April 17, just in time for Earth Day. A new bay-spanning video and co-branded website, Tampa Bay Recycles, provides information about why people need to keep recycling bag-free no matter where they recycle in the Tampa Bay area - home, work, public venues, or collection centers.

Utilizing reusable bags is more eco-friendly than getting disposable plastic bags when shopping. For those who use plastic bags and can’t return them to participating retailers for special recycling, the good news is that all four governments use Waste-to-Energy facilities for trash disposal – turning garbage into renewable electricity.

This is the first time all the county and city solid waste departments have worked together on a single regional campaign.  Since people tend to live, work, and entertain throughout the region, not just within the city or county they live in, providing one simple consistent message will make it easier for residents to understand recycling rules and will, hopefully, translate to behavior change to reduce contamination in the regional recycling stream.