Plastic police: Jacksonville to begin inspecting recycling bins to make sure items can be recycled

Repeat violations can result in the city cutting off service.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you live in Jacksonville you may have just received a refrigerator magnet in the mail telling you how to recycle.

Well, pay attention to it because if you don’t the “Plastic Police” will soon be watching you closely.

News4JAX has learned the city is going to start inspecting your recycling bin in May to make sure you’re doing it right.

The idea to inspect your recycling may sound odd and intrusive, but many people that News4JAX spoke to in Arlington don’t have a problem with it.

“I think it’s a good idea because I think people have a tendency to throw anything in the recycle bin,” said one resident.

As part of a federal grant, the city is going to use a not-for-profit firm to have people inspect items put in recycling bins.

“If there’s some improper materials within the bins, there’ll be a tag placed on the bin to let people know, hey, this is not a proper material to go into your recycle bin. Please correct this behavior,” said Eric Fuller, Environmental Manager of Public Works.

It might surprise some to learn that once you put your trash on the curb, it’s no longer yours. The city can do these inspections without your permission.

“So if people are using the recycle cart as a garbage can, we can’t have that, costs the city money, it contaminates good recyclable materials. So we’re going to warn people and educate them, we’re going to inspect everyone’s cart four times. And if that behavior continues, ultimately we’ll remove their garbage, their recycling cart from the road,” Fuller said.

The city said it made the decision because 20% of the items that are put in recycling bins end up in the landfill, which can be costly.

City councilman Ron Salem was instrumental in getting the project launched as part of a half-million-dollar federal grant.

When it starts, it will begin in the city’s urban core and spread out to the rest of Jacksonville in the weeks to follow.

So starting next month don’t be alarmed if you see people going through your trash. It may just be the cardboard cops.

So, what do you think about the new initiative? Tell us by filling out the form below.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.