TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2019) – As our population continues to grow at a rapid pace, the amount of waste produced also continues to grow. On behalf of Pinellas County Department of Solid Waste, HCP Associates was engaged to conduct an online residential survey for recycling awareness and practices.

Improper consumer actions stemming from misinformation and a lack of knowledge has challenged the recycling industry. HCP Associates continues to collaborate with organizations in the Tampa Bay community and lead initiatives in the right direction for the benefit of generations to come.

According to HCP Associates’ Vice President Robert Allen, the firm helped showcase Pinellas Residents’ sentiments towards recycling and their participation as members of the community. The survey evaluated 885 qualified responses.

“Results from this year’s study were overwhelming. By conducting this study, the Department of Solid Waste demonstrates their commitment to understanding how Pinellas County recycles and how they can continue to serve the community,” said Allen.

Many of the respondents highlighted the sense of pride in the county’s efforts focus on environmental stewardship. Furthermore, majority expressed that it was their responsibility to reduce the amount of harm upon ecosystems and the environment.

In addition, cardboard, aluminum, tin and steel cans are among the most popular items residents actively recycle. A quarter of respondents use a combination of both at-home and drop off site location to engage in these sustainable practices.

In particular, plastic grocery bags remain a broad-reaching challenge. Although only recycled by a small percentage, some residents remain unaware that these items are not to be placed in recycling bins as they interfere with the recycling process. These plastic grocery bags require a different collection system and processing equipment than many curbside recycling programs provide.

“In addition to identifying a few gaps in public awareness, our most substantive finding was the large gap in recycling participation for those living in large, multi-family dwellings. Future efforts by the Department to raise awareness and participation at those dwellings are key to maximizing recycling engagement,” said Allen.

Educational outreach is ongoing by the Department of Solid Waste. Their efforts continue to raise awareness of proper and efficient recycling habits. Next year, a commercial survey will be conducted. Every year the Pinellas County Department of Solid Waste alternates between a residential and commercial recycling survey.

“Pinellas County is the most densely populated county in Florida. It is surrounded by Tampa Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, intercostal waterways, rivers and lakes. It is vital that we understand the level of awareness the community has on how to recycle and determine the best way to inform the community how to make recycling a part of their daily lives. Everything we consume either ends up in the waste water or in the landfill. If we can take what we learned from the community and increase the awareness it will have long term benefits,” said Allen.

Recycling is vital to Southwest Florida as its act helps diminish the contamination of waste and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases and harmful chemical in the atmosphere.

For more information about the 2018 Pinellas County Residential Recycling Awareness Survey, visit  http://www.pinellascounty.org/solidwaste/PDF/2018_Residential_Recycling_Awareness_Survey.pdf.