Rob Smith insists: “It’s about the whole city. It’s the effort of the whole village to get that done. I just wanted to get it started.”
Smith is Flagler Beach’s sanitation director. He was referring to Flagler Beach winning the award for excellence in stewardship from at the Northeast Florida Regional Council awards banquet on January 5, for the city’s “Big Blue,” a machine that pulverizes glass, recycling it in to sand and gravel that can be used for sandbags, decorative mulch and other purposes. (See: “Flagler Beach’s ‘Big Blue’ In Business as Glass-Crushed Recyclables Will Decrease Dumping and Increase Uses.”)
Representatives from Flagler County, Bunnell and Palm Coast attended the luncheon to cheer on Flagler Beach. “Flagler County is very tight-knit and it’s a joy to share in the success of our municipalities,” said County Administrator Heidi Petito. “We support one another in every way possible.”
Bringing Big Blue to the city was Smith’s idea. The $200,000 machine made its debut last spring and now crushes on average 7 to 8 tons of glass every week to 10 days, Smith says, with crushed glass selling at $35 for a 25-pound bag. It’s a bit slower than usual now because of the season.
Palm Coast residents bring their glass to be recycled, so do families from Fort Pierce and Vero Beach. The city also keeps two collection carts at City Hall. Local businesses and a catering company from Daytona Beach also bring their glass.
“We are proud that the City of Flagler Beach runs our own recycling program and that residents’ items are truly recycled,” said Mayor Suzie Johnston. “We have been able to recycle more than 12 tons of glass a week and are thrilled about being recognized for our ability to do so.”
Smith accepted the award at the banquet at the WJTC Building in Jacksonville. “I wanted to initiate this because – according to the Glass Packaging Institute – more than a ton of natural resources are saved for every ton of glass recycled,” Smith said. “It’s wonderful for our city to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.”
Big Blue was one way to lessen the impact of a changing recycling market: Flagler Beach stopped recycling plastics and paper some time agi, since there is no market for either. It now recycles glass, cardboard, tin and aluminium. Smith says there’s what he describes as “contaminants” (non-recyclable materials) only 1 percent of the time when residents put pout their recyclables. New residents typically are not aware of the city’s recyclable categories, but Smith goes into education mode whenever necessary, winning compliance after that.
He’s working on buying a baler to bale cardboard and aluminium, and he’s preparing to have drop-off locations for certain types of plastics. “100 percent of what we pick up, I’m making sure it’s going to the right place,” Smith says.
Big Blue is anchored in concrete at the city’s sanitation department. “The addition of Big Blue has been a game changer,” said City Manager William Whitson. “It has allowed Flagler Beach to positively impact the environment while also creating a product that people can use and enjoy.”
More good news like this, shared with people who avoid it, might improve their perception of the site?
Yes, wishful thinking–I prefer it to no thinking.
Anyway, thank you, and kudos to the recyclers.
It’s a great idea, but the price could come down just a tad on the sand and gravel. There is still a monthly recycle fee, but it is very small. I wish we could do more for plastic, and right now that has to be on a personal level. It’s hard as hell, not buying items in plastic containers, like finding a product that wasn’t made in China, but something is better than nothing. Flagler Beach is doing a good job at trying to solve this recycling problem.
I’ve been told, more than once by different people, that Waste Pro dumps recycling at the garbage dump. No matter what they do, we do our part by sorting, rinsing and folding containers before placing in the recycle bins. What WP does is on them. I know that there have been times when they skipped the recycling day, only to pick it up with the garbage on garbage collection day. Anyone got some facts on that?
Well deserved. Good job folks.
Well done!! We need more leaders in our city like Ron Smith.