Recycling & Beyond

​​​​​It was more than half a century ago that the famous recycling symbol was introduced - on the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970 - and now that simple symbol is everywhere, inviting consumers to recycle various forms of paper, metal, glass, and plastic.

The U.S. has made great strides in recycling since the 1960s, when the recycling rate was only seven percent. Today it's more than 32 percent. But we're not even among the top 10 countries in the world for recycling. Austria tops that list, with more than 63 percent of all waste diverted from landfills, and Germany and Taiwan recycle almost twice as much as we do. ​​​​​​​Singapore, South Korea, United Kingdom, Italy, and France all do better than us, and Brazil recently racked up world record-setting levels of aluminum recycling.

American are best at recycling paper-based products such as newspapers, magazines, food boxes, and junk mail, which make up nearly half of our recycling efforts. Metals, plastics, and glass lag far behind.​

America Recycles Day - November 15 - is one way the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to emphasize the importance of recycling to both the environment and our national economy. (An EPA study attributes nearly 700,000 jobs and $38 billion in wages to recycling and reuse activities.) More than 15 million people participate in more than 3,000 American Recycles Day events in all 50 states, promoted through the familiar Keep America Beautiful campaign. (Get an early start on America Recycles Day with a naturalist-led walk at Kristin Jacobs Natural Area at Hillsboro Pineland​, Monday, November 14, 10 to 11 a.m. In keeping with the theme, the walk will include a little "ploggin" - hiking while picking up debris and recyclables. The program is free, but space is limited, so call 954.357.8109 to preregister or for more information.)

You'll find bins throughout the Broward County park system as we do our part to encourage recycling. We also promote recycling through our monthly EcoAction​ Days and other volunteer workdays, and our annual Chip-a-Tree Program turns used Christmas trees into mulch for landscaping through our park system. Our Special Populations Section (954.357.8160/8070) offers a free ongoing 3R's (Recycle Repurpose Reuse) Program for adults with developmental disabilities.

This month, Anne Kolb Nature Center​ will offer The Problem With Plastic Hike, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 5. Participants in the naturalist-led program will learn about the growing amounts of plastic found in our environment and how the problem can be addressed. Recycling and alternative to using plastic will also be discussed. For more information, call the nature center at 954.357.5161.