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Waste Reduction &

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 more 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 less items going to disposal, but it also reduces litter, saves resources, and saves money. Moving to a reduced or zero 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 your waste. 


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


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


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. 

Image by Joshua Hoehne


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. 


Ok, so why has preventing and reducing food waste become increasingly important today more than ever?

Did You Know…? Some interesting facts from the Food Waste Prevention Coalition: 

  • 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! That is a staggering fact! 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 be involved, please visit

  • Food Waste Prevention Week is coming up! April 10 - 16, 2023.



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. 


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



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



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


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



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


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



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



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

Domestic Waste Bin

What You Need to Know


City of Tampa’s Free Backyard Composting Program:

  • Residents 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.

  • 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, visit:

Fee For Service:

If you do not wish to participate in the City’s program, live in an apartment or do not have space for a backyard composter, consider outsourcing your accepted waste to a private contractor, such as Suncoast Compost. For a monthly fee, your compostable waste will be collected from your home or business, or choose to drop off at a specified location.

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 for residents and businesses. Although a voluntary program, polluting the recycling stream is worse and if participating, following the guidelines IS required. 


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

  • Only large and small bottles and jugs, larger than the size of your fist

  • No plastic food or clamshell containers

  • 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 [Include CoT photo of “tanglers”?]

  • Some stores such as Publix are assisting in capturing certain types of plastics for recycling. Visit: for a complete list.


Tips to Reduce Single-Use Plastics:

  • Take the Reduce Your Use Pledge!

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

  • Say NO to Straws or bring your own

  • Bring your own reusable cup and water bottle when on the go. Some companies such as Starbucks run a reusable cup program. Bring in your own clean cup, and the baristas will use that for your drink and you receive a 10 cent discount.

  • Bring your own container and utensils for takeout or leftover container and utensils instead of more single-use bags.

  • Around the holidays and heading into the spring-cleaning season, the City experiences an increase in waste. In March 2021, an increase of 22% 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


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


Yard waste


Plastic plates, cups, cutlery


Ceramic plates, dishes

Plant pots

Image by Vladyslav Cherkasenko
Hazardous waste
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW):


Additional Information and Resources:

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