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Waste Reduction and

Responsible Disposal

The basic facts about waste in the City of Tampa

Trash Talk!

On average, our trash carts contain: 30% Trash, 50% Compostables and 20% Recyclables! Diverting recyclable and compostable waste from our trash carts, can reduce their content by up to 70%! Read on for ways to prevent, divert and dispose of waste responsibly.

How You Can Help

The best way to reduce environmental impacts when it comes to waste is to prevent making it in the first place. Practicing waste reduction means diverting fewer materials to disposal methods or landfills. Not only does it lead to fewer items going to disposal, but it also reduces litter, saves resources, and saves money! Moving to a reduced waste lifestyle takes time and effort but is very rewarding. It is an ongoing process, and the transition can be made incrementally. We've outlined below four ways you can responsibly reduce, recycle or dispose of your waste. 

Diversion

Waste diversion or landfill diversion is the process of diverting waste from landfills.

Composting

Composting is nature’s way of recycling. It is one of the most powerful actions we can take to reduce our trash.

Recycling

Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste is waste that has substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment. 

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Diversion
Prevention

Often when we think of or talk about waste, we are referring to garbage or waste that is no longer wanted, usable or palatable–if we are talking about food. So why has preventing and reducing food waste become increasingly important today more than ever? We attempt to address the importance of preventing food waste with some interesting facts from the Food Waste Prevention Coalition.

 

Did You Know…?

  • Reducing food waste saves money:

    • Wasting food is expensive. Every year, Americans lose more than $218 billion on wasted food. In Florida alone, the average family of four throws out around $1,600 worth of food annually!

  • It protects the environment:

    • Reducing food waste is the #1 personal action we can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time, saving critical natural resources. When food is wasted, it goes into a landfill. In a landfill, it breaks down and emits greenhouse gasses, including carbon dioxide and methane.

  • It reduces hunger in our communities:

    • In the US, approximately 40% of all food grown and produced is never eaten! An enormous amount of food is wasted that could go to people that don’t have access to food. 1 in 5 people lack consistent access to healthy, nutritious food, while up to 3 million tons of wasted food a year goes to landfills.

  • For more information and for ideas on how you can personally reduce food waste by careful shopping and storage and ways to get involved, please visit the Food Waste Prevention Week Coalition website.

Diversion

One of the first tenets of waste reduction is diversion. The 3 R’s of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle can be expanded to 6 R’s to include Rethinking what we purchase, Refusing unnecessary and single-use items and composting (Rot). See the diagram below for examples.

Rethink

Mindset: We are responsible for the waste we create and where it ends up. Think about purchases and avoid unnecessary waste

 

Refuse

Avoid: Single-use items like straws, cutlery, extra packaging and non-necessities. Say no to plastic bags

 

Reduce

Lifestyle: Minimize everyday resources. Inventory the most waste-heavy and switch to reusables

Reuse

Pause: Before you toss, repair, repurpose, or donate to minimize new material consumption and resources

 

Rot

Fact: About 40-50% of our current waste is compostable and therefore a potentially renewable, reusable resource

Recycle

Why: Turning existing items into reusable products, reduces the need to strain existing raw resources

 

Recover

Processes: Where it all ends up. Garbage may still be used at an energy-from-waste recovery facility

 

Dispose

Landfill: This is the last step in the process after the 7 R’s are exhausted and should be the last resort

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Composting 
Composting

What You Need to Know:

  • To learn how composting helps to combat the climate crisis and for more information on the City’s program and to learn what is and is not compostable, click here.

  • The City of Tampa offers a free Backyard Composting Program. Residents only within the City of Tampa’s Solid Waste service area with an active solid waste account are eligible to take a free composting workshop.

  • Workshops are held once per month and registrations open in the prior month.

  • Upon completion of the required steps outlined in the workshop, residents will receive a free backyard composting bin delivered to their door. Check this link regularly for information on, and to register for, upcoming City of Tampa Backyard Composting Workshops.

  • The University of Florida's Extension Office (UF/IFAS Hillsborough Extension), also runs workshops both In-Person and on Zoom. For a nominal fee, Hillsborough County and City of Tampa residents will learn how to put everyday food waste and organic materials to work for them.

  • Check out future composting and other workshops such as Vermicomposting, Microirrigation and Rainwater Harvesting hosted by the UF/IFAS Extension Office here.

Additional Composting Resources:

  • More information on starting your own compost can be found here

  • Some community gardens, such as Seminole Heights Community Gardens accept neighbors' food waste.

  • If you do not wish to participate in the City’s program, live in an apartment, or do not have space for a backyard compost bin, consider outsourcing your accepted organic waste to a private contractor. For a monthly fee, your compostable waste will be collected from your home or business.

  • For residential composters who don't require or desire curbside pickup services, but still want to turn their food scraps into soil. Drop-off composters have a designated drop-off site where they can drop their compost to be collected weekly. 

  • For more information and to register for this program, contact Suncoast Organics.

Paper Recycling Bin
Recycling - The 3 R's
Current Recycling Program—Accepted Items 

So, Why Recycle?

Recycling is not mandated by Federal, Florida State, or Local Government Statues. Currently, it is a voluntary program available to residents and businesses. Although a voluntary program, throwing non-recyclables into the bin is worse because it pollutes the recycling stream, therefore if participating, following the guidelines IS required. Visit the City of Tampa's Recycling page for answers to your questions on all things recyclable. Here, you can access a Waste Sort feature to find out how to correctly dispose of an item, download the Tampa Trash and Recycling app for your Google Android or Apple iOS device, sign up for email collection reminders and more.

Remember:

  • Recyclable items must be rinsed and free of food and liquid residue.

  • Large jugs, medium and small bottles, larger than the size of your fist only

  • No plastic food, take-out, or clam shell containers

  • Do not use the number or recycling logo stamped on the bottom of most plastics as a guide for recycling, many of these are not accepted in the City's current program.

  • Unbagged only. Plastic bags are the #1 problem that clogs the machinery and disrupts the recycling process and small items like bottle caps and top, shredded paper are too small to be captured for recycling.

Tips to Reduce Single-Use Plastics and Other Items:

  • BYOB - Bring Your Own Bag for groceries and shopping trips

  • BYOC - Bring Your Own reusable Cup or water bottle when on the go. Some stores such as Starbucks have a personal reusable cup program as part of their rewards program. Bring in a clean cup which the barista will use for your drink and receive a 10 cent discount.

  • Say NO to Straws or bring your own

  • Take food on the go in your own container and bring your own containers and utensils for take-out food.

  • Around the Holidays and heading into the Spring cleaning season, the City experiences an increase in waste. In March 2021, a 22% increase in waste was generated. Planning ahead to reduce waste before the season, will lessen this effect.

Recycling Program Rules 10 x 14 in poste

Accepted paper items

Dry & Clean Paper

No shredded paper

No photo paper

 

Dry & Clean Cardboard

Flatten boxes

No Styrofoam or packaging

 

Dry & Clean Paperboard

Unlined items only

No packaging or plastic liners

ACCEPTED PLASTIC, METAL GLASS AND ITEMS

Bottles & Jugs only

Empty and rinsed

No caps

 

Cans & Bottles

Empty and rinsed

Food and beverage containers only, no reusable containers

 

Bottles & Jugs only

Empty and rinsed

No caps or lids

Unaccepted items

Plastic bags of any kind

Grocery garbage

Pet food

No dispensers

from plastic bottles

Lined milk & juice cartons

Plastic & metal kitchen utensils

Pots & pans

Clothing

Yard waste

Styrofoam

Plastic plates, cups, cutlery

 Straws

Ceramic plates, dishes

Plant pots

Additional Information and Resources:
  • For more information on the City of Tampa’s Solid Waste/Recycling Programs, useful tips for reducing and avoiding waste, including a handy Waste Sort feature to help you navigate the questionable stuff, visit the City of Tampa’s Waste Reduction page.

  • Download the City of Tampa app for collection days and more and follow them on Social Media.

  • Many grocery and other stores have bins for recycling plastic shopping bags.

  • Publix have an expanded recycling program, capturing certain types of plastics and foam for recycling. Check here for a complete list.

  • Dart/Solo, through its Next Life Take Back Program, offers foam recycling drop-off locations that are open to the public. Browse the recycling map for a convenient location near you!

  • Take the Reduce Your Use Tampa Bay Pledge!

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Hazardous Waste
Household Hazardous Waste and Electronic Waste Recycling and Collection Services

The Environmental Protection Agency's definition of a hazardous material is one that falls under one or more of the following categories:

  • Flammable

  • Reactive or explosive when mixed with another substance

  • Corrosive

  • Toxic

According to the EPA's definition, every American household contains many hazardous materials, and on average, can contain from 3 to 10 gallons of substances that are considered to be hazardous. If not stored and disposed of correctly, these chemicals can poison our bodies, drinking water, and air. Disposing of household hazardous waste (HHW) improperly can cause a myriad of problems. Explosions have occurred in sewers and garbage trucks because of improperly disposed of wastes. Also, corrosive wastes can slowly eat away at materials until they break and cause unknown harm. Poisonous wastes can cause cancer, birth defects, and harm the environment. HHW should NEVER be placed in your curbside garbage or recycling bins or disposed of down ​the drain.

City of Tampa Services
  • A complete list of HHW items can be found on the City’s website.

  • Tampa residents have access to County HHW and Electronic (e-waste) Collection Sites. Residents can take their HHW to several locations within Hillsborough Country - see below.

  • Materials accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Centers include household products containing hazardous ingredients and labeled with words such as poison, danger, toxic, flammable, corrosive and reactive.

  • Household Hazardous Waste collections are scheduled between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.:

    • 1st Saturday of the month

      • Sheldon Road Facility, 9805 Sheldon Road, Tampa

    • 2nd Saturday of the month

      • South County Facility, 13000 U.S. 41 S., Gibsonton

    • 3rd Saturday of the month

      • East County Facility, 6209 C.R. 579, Seffner

Accepted Household Hazardous Waste and Household Electronic Items

Household Electronics and Paint

Household electronics and paint collection services:

Household Paint Items
  • Limited to 10 one-gallon and 5 five-gallon containers per month (regardless of amount of paint in each container)

  • Containers must be sealed and leak free

  • Aerosol cans are not accepted

What to know before you go 
  • Tampa residents can take advantage of this service at Hillsborough County collection facilities for no additional charge by providing a valid driver's license as proof of City residency.

  • Important Note: For City of Tampa residents, only household hazardous waste and electronics recycling will be accepted at these locations. Contact your City solid waste provider for disposal options for other materials such as wood, furniture, construction debris, and household garbage.

  • City of Tampa – (813) 274-8811

Battery Recycling Services and Discarding Batteries

You can take lithium-ion and other rechargeable household batteries to certain Community Collection Centers (CCC) and Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection sites. Check CCC and HHW locations for operating times and eligible days. Most batteries must be individually bagged for safe transport and disposal.

Batteries accepted at CCC sites

  • Rechargeable batteries found in cell phones, digital cameras, laptops (limit 5 per month), hearing aids, watches, and keyless remotes

  • Cordless power tool battery packs (limit 5 per month)

  • Lead-acid batteries, commonly used in automobiles, boats, and recreational vehicles (no bagging required)

Items not accepted

  • Commercial waste

  • Alkaline batteries (common A, AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt)​

  • NEVER place batteries of any type in your curbside recycling cart.

Recycling Drop-off and Collection Options

Batteries not accepted at City of Tampa CCW or HHW collection site - including rechargeable, cordless power tool battery packs and Lead-acid batteries - can be dropped off for safe disposal or recycling at other locations in South Tampa:

  • Batteries Plus, 138 S. Dale Mabry Hwy. 

    • They also accept light bulbs and small electronics, including cell phones, laptops, portable power tools, power cords, etc. Please be aware fees may apply, and will vary based on location.

    • Recyclables are passed on to their recycling partners, who in turn repurpose the salvageable material for secondary uses and keep dangerous materials out of landfills.

    • For a complete list of everything they recycle, visit their website

  • Call2recyle

    • Offers the country’s largest, most reliable battery recycling program. On behalf of corporate stewards, they optimize collection and responsibly manage the end-of-life of batteries and other material.

    • Drop off your old batteries for free at thousands of convenient locations, including The Home Depot and Lowe’s stores in Tampa. To find drop-off locations, go to their website.

  • Urban E Recycling

    • Urban E Recycling, (electronics recycling) offers a free service in Tampa. They responsibly recycle computers, cellphones, laptops, telecom systems, and other office electronics. Computer recycling and electronic recycling are what we do. They pick up e-waste at all Florida Area businesses for NO CHARGE. In fact, there are no charges for any of their services.

    • Their services include:

      • Pick Up

      • Data Destruction by Shredding Hard Drives

      • Certification of Data Destruction

      • Responsible Recycling

    • Check out the extensive list of everything they recycle and schedule a pick up or call: 813-512-6998.

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