Santa Rosa county brought back its recycling program Monday after a 10-month hiatus that was caused by Emerald Coast Utilities Authority terminating its recycling contract with the county due to high contamination rates. But despite a renewed campaign to educate residents about what to put and what not to put in recycling cans, the county says its recycling loads are still too full of garbage to send to the recycling center in Escambia County.

“People are still throwing everything they can in their damn recycling can,” said Ron Hixson, the county’s environmental manager. “We get hoses and baby seats because they’re plastic. None of that is recyclable.”

The current recycling contract began Monday and is the county’s last-ditch effort to have a recycling program at all. It ended its previous recycling program in April 2019 after ECUA terminated its contract early. The county solicited bids from companies to transport its recyclables to ECUA’s facility in Beulah, and awarded the contract to the only bidder, WPR Inc., in December.

But the new, year-long contract comes with a caveat: ECUA can still terminate the contract at any time, which it will likely do if the county sends too many contaminated recycle loads. And if ECUA does terminate the contract, the county will still be on the hook to WPR Inc. for $5,000 per month for every month left on the contract, up to one year. Due to low global market value for recyclable materials, the county is already subsidizing recycling at a rate of approximately $250,000 per year.

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Annie Blanks, Pensacola News Journal
Photo: Pensacola News Journal