Public Works director calls on residents to recycle

“We come up with every excuse in the book not to do something,” said Clewiston’s Public Works Director Sean Scheffler.

That statement rings true for many things — exercising, eating healthy, finishing the home improvements that were started last year and never completed. But besides those resolution-worthy “somethings,” Scheffler hopes the residents of Hendry County will take on recycling as their next “to do.”

The city of Clewiston has been working hard to make recycling as easy as possible for residents. Though curb-side pickup is a thing of the future for residents within the city limits, the city of Clewiston offers two recycling centers on E. Esperanza Avenue and S. Olympia Street.

The city has also introduced “single-stream recycling,” meaning residents no longer have to sort through their recycling; glass bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard, paper and plastic can all be thrown in the same bin, both at home and at the recycling centers. Though many of the city’s recycling bins say “plastics only” or “cardboard only” they are all mixed recycling bins. The same applies to the glass recycling bins: residents can choose to sort the glass by color and put it in the separate bin, or put it together in the mixed recycling bin.

Scheffler also explained that residents do not need to worry whether, for example, a plastic container has a recycling symbol on the bottom, or whether that symbol carries a number 1, 2 or 6. It can all be recycled, said Scheffler, no matter the number and no matter the symbol.

Though efforts to make recycling simpler and more convenient for city residents have been made, Scheffler said a change in attitude and habit is necessary to make recycling part of everyone’s daily routine.

“Recycling is something parents need to do so small children see it as a way of life,” said Scheffler. “We need to start developing a thought process in our children.”

Scheffler gave the example of seat belts in cars and trucks. When he was in elementary school, Scheffler said there were no seat belts in cars; and when every car finally came equipped with seat belts, it was not mandatory to wear them, therefore, people often did not. After years of pushing to mandate the use of seat belts and a change in the attitude of drivers and passengers, it is second nature to “click it” when they get in the car.

Scheffler believes recycling will work the same way.

“We can reduce by 80 percent the amount of solid waste sent to our landfills by recycling,” said Scheffler.

Scheffler also offered suggestions to make recycling easier for families. Batteries, for example, are abundant in everyone’s home and are usually thrown out without another thought. Scheffler suggests keeping a sturdy bucket underneath the kitchen sink or near the washing machine (or any place that is convenient for the family) and putting the batteries in the bucket when they die. Once the bucket becomes full, simply call the county to set up a time to bring the batteries to the household recycling center. The number to call is 863-675-5252.

Residents can also recycle and make a little bit of extra money at the same time by taking their aluminum cans to Allied Recycling, located at 521 E. Haiti Avenue in Clewiston.

Allied Recycling will pay per pound for certain metals, including aluminum, copper, steel, lead and brass. Examples of items they accept are aluminum cans and pots, power cords, Christmas lights, car batteries, car parts, lawn mowers, washing machines and even weights from cast nets.

Like the stock market, the prices paid for the metals vary per day. It is also necessary to bring in at least one pound worth of metal, as the scales will not register under one pound. Larry Whitaker, manager at Allied Recycling, said it takes roughly 23 aluminum cans to make a pound. Allied Recycling also accepts cars and car parts, and customers typically receive $200 to $500 for scrap cars, according to Whitaker.

As customers continue to bring metal goods to be recycled at Allied Recycling, Whitaker said those customers become savvier about what can be broken down and sold, maximizing the amount of money the customer receives.

Allied Recycling is based out of Fort Myers and has locations throughout Florida. The Clewiston location is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Potential customers should call 863-301-3670 for more information.

With eased restrictions on what can be recycled and a modernized single-stream recycling system, it is easier than ever for residents living within the city of Clewiston to reduce, reuse and recycle.

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