Clearwater’s garbage is collected, transported and processed at the Pinellas County Waste-to-Energy Facility in St. Petersburg, Fla. While the waste-to-energy process reduces the amount of solid waste deposited in landfills and generates electricity, it also produces greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of plastics, tires and other carbon-based waste materials. Ninety percent of the garbage created in the county is burned through waste-to-energy, while 10 percent is landfilled. The landfilling of material also creates methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.
In 2018, Clearwater residents and businesses generated 6.6 million tons of garbage and recycled 9,600 tons of plastic containers, glass bottles, metal cans, mixed paper and newspaper. Additionally, 3,700 tons of yard waste were collected and repurposed.
Both businesses and consumers can have a large impact on waste reduction. Businesses can make products using less toxins and packaging while increasing their use of packaging that is recyclable or compostable. Consumers can better manage their waste by reusing items, recycling properly, composting and correctly disposing of electronics and other hazardous waste.
We can all do our best to avoid products that generate large amounts of waste and choose to reuse items rather than placing them in the trash. Further sustainable practices include composting at home, recycling properly and buying products that are made of material that was previously recycled.
- In 2010, the city started a residential yard waste collection program. By collecting yard waste separately and sending it to a company that repurposes it, the city has reduced the annual amount of solid waste it sends to the waste-to-energy facility/landfill.
- The city expanded previous recycling options to include more types of plastic as well as glass. It also launched a single-stream recycling program in 2013 to make recycling more convenient and provided 90-gallon barrels to every single-family home.
- The city actively educates residents, businesses and visitors about proper recycling in Clearwater. The Solid Waste/Recycling department maintains an informative webpage and has staff who provide presentations at neighborhood association meetings and schools. The city will continue to educate consumers about proper recycling and will prioritize the reduction and reuse of materials first and foremost before advocating for their proper disposal.
- In 2018, City Council unanimously passed resolution 18-08 to encourage Clearwater businesses to adopt ocean-friendly practices. These practices include not using plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic utensils, Styrofoam and balloons. Ocean-friendly businesses choose reusable, paper-based biodegradable, compostable or recyclable materials instead and maintain a clean recycling program.