Make Recycling More Accessible in the Bay
April 28, 2021
To Whom it May Concern,
We are seniors at the Academy of the Holy Names. We are writing to you to address an outstanding issue that we have found to be prevalent in Tampa Bay: recycling. The current procedure to obtain a recycling bin, specifically cost and access, is discouraging to citizens that lack both. We hope that we have presented our argument effectively in order to persuade and encourage citizens in the Tampa Bay area to advocate for a more equitable recycling program.
It is time that the residents of Tampa Bay are made aware of the faults in our recycling system. This is an important issue because, as humans, it is in our rights and responsibilities to care for our planet and all it entails. We can start by fixing how we recycle. In his encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis emphasized the request of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew “to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing.” That being said, it is evident that the overall issue of recycling in Tampa Bay is significantly impacted by difficulties in accessing, obtaining, and affording recycling bins.
After further research, one realizes just how misleading and discouraging the process of receiving a recycling bin is in the Tampa Bay area. First, these bins are not readily available to lower-income areas. Second, the process is not compliant or cooperative with working-class families who do not have time or the access to the process of obtaining a recycling bin. Third, The current process takes time and lots of patience as it is not user-friendly. Oftentimes this leads to final defeat as citizens do not have the time to sit through a strenuous process of obtaining a simple recycling bin.
Many people also do not realize that cost is a significant barrier. According to the Hillsborough county website, it costs $103 to purchase a recycling bin for a standard family. Despite being willing to recycle, the cost alone can discourage many families from purchasing one. This means that although many are willing to recycle, low-income families are often (understandably) forced to put their needs before the needs of the Earth. This is why our community should work to find ways to make recycling an affordable option.
If you compare the practice of waste management of recyclable materials in Tampa to that of a more progressive city, such as San Jose, California, the differences are clear. According to Busted Cubicle, from 2012 to 2015, the city of San Jose’s commercial recycling rate increased from 22% to 43%, which equates to a total percentage of 71%. This was accomplished with a joint effort between the city and two waste management companies. These companies work to both collect and remove both recyclable and organic materials, process them, and finally transform them into energy or compost. In 2018, Florida’s recycling rate was 49%, falling short of its goal of 70%. This is evidently a much lower percentage than that of San Jose, and the City of Tampa would be wise to follow in their footsteps.
It is important to remember the many benefits that come from recycling, as it helps fulfill Pope Francis’ call to steer from throwaway culture. Today, many who live along the Tampa Bay, Hillsborough River, and many beaches have noticed high percentages of waste and pollution building up. Without recycling, these natural resources will continue to build up with waste. According to a study that was published in November by scientists at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, there are four billion bits of microplastic that are in the Tampa Bay area. Microplastics like plastic bags or water bottles that only get used for a limited amount of time by our doings will spend an entire lifetime polluting our Tampa Bay. Recycling will not only help reduce pollution in our Bay, but it will help create a better living environment for those who call the Tampa Bay their home.