A big crowd turned out Thursday morning to hear about the future of trash pickup and recycling in The Villages.
Those attending the North Sumter County Utility Dependent District meeting at Laurel Manor Recreation Center were given a comprehensive presentation by John Wood, global practice director at Jacobs, the waste hauler in The Villages.
NSCUDD is the water, wastewater and reclaimed water service provider to properties in The Villages that are south of County Road 466 and north of County Road 466A. Additionally, NSCUDD is the provider of the solid waste sanitation services for Marion and Sumter County, and the Fruitland Park portion of The Villages.
The presentation focused primarily on Community Development Districts 1 through 11.
There are 100 tons of garbage per collection day (twice a week) collected in The Villages. There is another 125 tons per collection day of yard waste in The Villages. There are 55 tons of recyclables per collection day.
The rate of recycling in Florida is 54 percent, which is higher than the national average of 34.7 percent. The rate of recycling in The Villages is 37.1 percent, which is higher than the national average.
“Yours is a very healthy recycling rate,” Wood told the audience.
However, the items being put out for recycling are likely to change, Wood said. That is because China began to severely limit the amount of recyclables it accepts from the United States.
“There is nowhere for it to go,” Wood said.
Some communities have elected to put recyclables into landfills and incinerators.
“Simply because there is no market for them,” he said.
Wood, a resident of Lancaster County, Pa., noted his community has stopped accepting newspaper in its recycling bins.
“This is common. This is happening across the U.S.,” he said.
Wood said recyclables collected in The Villages are sent to a Materials Recovery Facility (commonly referred to as a MRF) where items are sorted and processed. He described the process as “very expensive and labor intensive.”
He said technology can speed up the process at MRFs, with robots sorting at a much faster pace than humans. But with aging MRF facilities, it’s tough to get ahead of the game.
“Recycling is more expensive than disposal,” he said.
Trash from The Villages is taken to a landfill in Georgia. NSCUDD pays a tipping fee of $28.35 per ton at that facility in the Peach State, but that agreement will expire “soon.”
That caught the attention of Village of Largo resident Bernhard Guenther, who was involved in early recycling efforts in New Jersey.
“We are taking solid waste up to Georgia. There will come a time when they say, “No más,” he said.
The amount most Villagers pay for trash pickup is $17.90 per household monthly, for an annual cost of $214.80. He called it “pretty competitive.”
In contrast, residents of Austin, Texas pay $400 per year and in San Francisco they are paying up to $1,000 per year per household for trash pickup. Those cities have stringent collection policies.
Wood said The Villages will need to identify a path forward and then begin to set a budget.
District Manager Richard Baier called the presentation a “first step” in developing a long-range plan working with NSCUDD and Sumter County.
“The Villages needs to do something. What we are doing now is not sustainable,” he said.
You can see Wood’s entire presentation at this link: Villages Solid Waste 06202019