Miami-Dade County residents may soon see their garbage collection fees increase.
The proposed increase is partly due to rising operational, labor and global recycling costs, exacerbated by the long-term impact of the pandemic.
The proposed fee increase, which would add $36 to the current annual fee of $509, aims to keep the recycling program and other waste services running for over 366,176 homes.
But not everyone is on board.
“I will not vote for any increases for our residents,” said Miami-Dade Commissioner Kevin M. Cabrera (District 6).
Cabrera argues that the community is already facing several challenges.
“They are struggling with inflation. They struggle with ever-increasing property taxes, property insurance, groceries and gas,” Cabrera said.
Cabrera suggests temporarily shutting down the existing recycling program, calling it ineffective.
“Let’s find ways to do better,” he said.
NBC6 spoke to Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
“Recycling is a very, very important part of how we manage our waste stream,” the mayor said.
She warns that halting the recycling program would make existing conditions worse.
“We have limited capacity to dispose of things at our landfill. At the moment we don’t have an incinerator that takes half of our waste. If we don’t recycle, more just end up in the landfill and.” “They fill them up faster,” the mayor said.
Earlier this year, a fire at an incinerator in Doral prompted the county to look for alternative waste disposal solutions.
Levine Cava suggests building a large incinerator near the Everglades as a solution to the situation.
Noel Cleland, chairman of the Sierra Club Miami Group, supports the mayor’s initiatives, which include the development of a zero-waste master plan.
“I think her entire team is showing a lot of forward-thinking initiative to try not to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution but to do a little bit of everything so this doesn’t become a crisis,” Cleland said.
Cabrera wants to go one step further and stop traditional recycling.
“I think we need to build a new incinerator, which is ultimately the best way to recycle. Why? Because in an incinerator, waste is produced, energy is generated, and this generates money for the taxpayer,” explained Cabrera.
Davie and Pembroke Pines are already using this approach, sending waste and recyclables to an incinerator. Under Florida law, this process is considered renewable energy.
Levine Cava and Cabrera agree that improving public education about recycling could benefit the program but would require more funding.
According to the Miami-Dade Department of Solid Waste Management, the contamination rate (items thrown incorrectly into the recycling bin) has dropped to 40%, but according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the county’s recycling rate is still lower than other parts of the state.