Gainesville Zero Waste News

FoodRecovery.org Set to Reduce Food Waste In Gainesville

Food Recovery logo Over 2 million people in Florida lack access to healthy food and are considered food insecure, which is astonishing when more than a third of our food supply ends up in landfills. Getting donated wholesome food to those in need is a solvable problem, and FoodRecovery.org is here to help.

FoodRecovery.org is at the forefront of addressing this critical issue. As a pioneering non-profit organization, this online platform bridges the gap between excess food and those in need by connecting food donors with local food banks and charities. Their innovative approach ensures that surplus food, which would otherwise be discarded, reaches people facing food insecurity.

Whether you’re a restaurant, grocery store, farm, or caterer, partnering with FoodRecovery.org is simple. They provide resources and support to help streamline the donation process, ensuring that food is safely and efficiently redirected to those in need. You can sign up on their website and start making a difference immediately.

Visit FoodRecovery.org to learn more about how you can join the movement and be part of the solution. Together, we can turn surplus into sustenance and build a more sustainable future for all.

Learn more at gainesvillefl.gov/ZeroWaste, and follow @ZeroWasteGNV on Facebook and Instagram.

Recent Articles

What Happens to Your Recyclables?

no cartons There's a lot of misleading and confusing information about the future of recycling. For instance, you may have heard news stories stating that “only around 9% of all the plastic waste generated globally is recycled.” While this statistic is accurate, it doesn't mean that the materials you place in your curbside recycling bins are not getting recycled. Instead, it highlights the vast number of plastic products that exist and that only a small percentage of them are either accepted by or collected through community recycling programs.

Locally, all materials from your orange & blue recycling bins are taken to Alachua County’s Material Recovery Facility, located off Waldo Road. Here, non-recyclable items, known as contaminants, are sorted out. Recyclables are then separated by hand and machines into primary groups like glass, plastic, metal, and paper. These separated materials are baled and loaded onto trucks for shipment to secondary processors and manufacturers, where they are used to create new products. It is important to note that Alachua County does not ship any recovered materials overseas or to incinerators.

While the end markets are subject to change, below is a list of the common end uses for your recyclables after they are reprocessed:

  • Cardboard: Used as backing for new cardboard boxes.
  • Mixed Paper: Newspaper, pasteboard boxes, and other residential papers are reprocessed for protective packaging uses.
  • Aluminum Bottles & Cans: Are smelted into sheets for the packaging industry to make new beverage containers.
  • Steel Cans: Made into new food cans and rebar for construction projects.
  • Plastics (PET): Get converted into plastic flakes used to make new products, such as carpeting and clothing.
  • Plastics (HDPE): Your natural (milk jugs) and colored plastic containers (shampoo bottles) are made into plastic flakes and pellets to manufacture pipes and plastic lumber.
  • Glass: Used to make glass containers, fiberglass, highway bead, glass abrasives, and specialty glass for decorations.

Learn more about recycling and the waste management hierarchy at gainesvillefl.gov/WhatCanBeRecycled, and follow @ZeroWasteGNV on Facebook and Instagram.

Cartons Dropped from Recycling Program

no cartons As the saying goes, there's no use crying over spilled milk. However, in this case, it's the carton that has met its end, not the milk. Food and beverage cartons are no longer accepted in the curbside recycling programs of Gainesville and Alachua County. Cartons are also no longer accepted for recycling drop-off at any of the Alachua County Rural Collection Centers.

Attempts to find domestic markets capable of processing this material have been unsuccessful. Additionally, the volume of cartons collected locally has been insufficient to fill shipments before the containers become moldy, rendering them unsuitable for recycling.

The following are no longer accepted for recycling:

  • Gable-top containers, such as milk, juice & egg substitute cartons
  • Tetra Pak (shelf-stable) containers, such as protein drinks, broth and boxed wine
  • Juice boxes

For information on what materials are accepted for recycling, visit gainesvillefl.gov/WhatCanBeRecycled, and follow @ZeroWasteGNV on Facebook and Instagram.

The Cost-Effective & Eco-Friendly Benefits of Repairing Over Replacing

bagged yard waste In our fast-paced consumer society, the allure of new products often overshadows the practical and environmental benefits of repairing existing items. However, opting to repair rather than replace can lead to significant savings and contribute to a more sustainable world. New items often come with a hefty price tag, while repair services are generally much more affordable. Constantly producing new goods consumes vast resources and energy, contributing to pollution and waste.

For a list of local repair shops, visit gainesvillefl.gov/WasteWizard and select “Repair Options.” Below are some examples of everyday items that can be repaired locally:

  • Bicycles: Local bike shops can handle everything from flat tires to gear adjustments.
  • Cell Phones: Repair shops specialize in fixing screens, batteries, and other common issues.
  • Clothes: Tailors can repair tears, replace zippers, and level up your favorite outfits.
  • Computers: Local tech experts can upgrade hardware, fix software issues, and replace faulty components.
  • Furniture: Upholstery shops and carpenters can restore damaged furniture, extending its life.
  • Musical Instruments: Instrument repair specialists can fix everything from pianos to piccolos.
  • Shoes: Cobblers can resole and repair worn shoes.
  • Vacuum Cleaners: Appliance repair services can handle common issues like broken belts, frayed cords, or burnt motors.
  • Watches & Clocks: Watchmakers can restore both form and functionality to timepieces.

By choosing to repair these and other items, we not only save money but also take a meaningful step toward environmental stewardship. The next time something breaks, consider the benefits of repair before rushing to replace it. Embracing a repair culture can lead to a more sustainable future where resources are conserved, waste is minimized, and personal finances are better managed. Follow @ZeroWasteGNV on Facebook and

Properly Preparing Your Yard Waste For Curbside Collection

bagged yard waste Gainesville's status as a Tree City USA, coupled with Florida's unpredictable weather, often leads to significant yard waste for residents. Below are some important guidelines residents should follow to ensure the timely removal of yard waste materials set out for collection:

  • Large Branches: Place branches curbside in manageable-sized piles. Branches must be no longer than 5 feet, no thicker than 8 inches in diameter, or weigh no more than 40 pounds per piece.
  • Leaves and Grass Clippings: Collect leaves, grass clippings, and small twigs in brown paper lawn & leaf bags or personal reusable yard waste containers. Each bag or container must weigh no more than 40 pounds. Yard waste in plastic bags will not be collected.
  • Litter Free: Ensure all yard waste is free from garbage, litter, and non-regulated materials. Do not include lumber, boards, or other manufactured materials with your yard waste.

Questions? Contact the Solid Waste Division at 352-334-2330 or gainesvillefl.gov/Recycle – and follow us on social media @ZeroWasteGNV on Facebook and Instagram.

Get Your Apartment Recycling On – Free Educational Signs!

apartment recycling station sign design As a part of the ongoing Zero Waste Initiative by the City of Gainesville, the Solid Waste Division is now providing complimentary recycling signs to Apartment and Condominium properties within the city limits. These newly printed signs aim to assist in educating tenants about accepted and non-accepted materials for recycling at collection stations. When posted, these signs will also meet the ordinance requirement for recycling educational signs in common areas where recyclables are collected.

These oversized signs measure 22 inches by 14 inches and are pre-printed with universal recycling messages suitable for both single-stream and dual-stream collection systems. The text on the signs is in both English and Spanish. Property staff will be responsible for posting the signs at each recycling collection station on their property.

If you are a property manager or owner interested in obtaining a set of these free signs, please contact the Solid Waste Division’s zero waste staff at waste@gainesvillefl.gov or call 352-334-2330. Act now, as these signs are only available while supplies last.

Requesting a Zero Waste Presentation

Request ZW Presentation square.png

Do you feel confused by the Zero Waste ordinances? Do you have a business within the City limits and want to ensure you’re in compliance?

If you answered yes to either of these, head to our website, and book a Zero Waste presentation today! Our dedicated staff can accommodate your schedule and tailor their presentations to your exact needs.

Here are some examples of what you can expect:

  • Multifamily Property owners or managers – Request a presentation for your staff or tenants to better understand the Road to Zero Waste, including proper recycling methods, the Lease Transition Plan, the Indoor Recycle Storage Container requirement, and more.
  • Food service establishment owners or managers – Request a presentation to learn about the single-use plastic straw & accessory ban, food waste collection and diversion, or general waste reduction tips.
  • Municipal departments – As the Zero Waste ordinances help our businesses divert precious materials from the landfill, we have the chance to lead by example. The Zero Waste team can help you set up proper office recycling stations, food waste diversion stations, and provide training for better use of all our cost saving and waste reducing services.
  • Civic groups or school clubs –Here’s your chance to get your group together for a fun and memorable educational experience. Learn about composting, recycling, and other waste diversion methods.

The Zero Waste team is here to help everyone – residents, business owners, and our municipal colleagues – as we all move toward the goal of the City of Gainesville reaching Zero Waste by 2040! We want to help equip your team with the tools they need to implement more sustainable actions in their day to day operations.

For more information and to request a presentation, please visit gainesvillefl.gov/ZeroWaste.

The Magic of the Zero Waste Wizard

graphic of a wizard in gray cloke with a wand and laptop Don’t know what to do with all your extra empty potion jars, broken staffs, and dusty witches’ hats lying around? Simply, visit gainesvillefl.gov/WasteWizard and ask your friendly Zero Waste Wizard to concoct a spell of responsible waste disposal!

The Zero Waste Wizard is the most reliable, up-to-date means for getting locally focused information on recycling, disposal, and reuse. City staff is constantly hitting the books at the School of Wizardry to keep the Zero Waste Wizard current, using information supplied mainly by app users like you.

In addition to answering crucial questions like “Is this recyclable?” a peek into the crystal ball will tell you everything from where to repair items, donate household goods, or find local scrap metal professionals.

While we think the Waste Wizard possesses all the answers, this Sorcerer of Sorting is also humble, so if you ask a question that doesn’t yet have an answer, you can suggest the addition of new items to the database of zero waste knowledge.

When you want to vanquish the dreaded foes of waste, clutter, and junk, the Zero Waste Wizard will cast a spell of all-knowing and all-seeing, giving you the answers you seek. In a world of darkness and uncertainty – “What do I do with all this old stuff?!” – let gainesvillefl.gov/WasteWizard light the way forward!

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