The Waste Reduction Section is responsible for promoting and monitoring statewide recycling and waste reduction programs as well as the recycling and proper management of household hazardous waste, medications, mercury lamps (fluorescent) and devices (thermostats), batteries and scrap electronics. Grants and technical assistance are also provided to local governments for the implementation of solid waste management programs. Local household hazardous waste collection center grants are also administered by this section.
The Small County Solid Waste grants provide assistance to small counties for their solid waste management and recycling programs. Household hazardous waste collection center grants help finance household hazardous waste collection events provided by counties with expertise and equipment for smaller counties that may not have sufficient expertise and equipment.
Mercury is used in many everyday products like fluorescent lamps, thermometers, thermostats, blood pressure manometers and pleasure boat bilge pump float switches. Some of these products have an environmental benefit. For example, fluorescent lamps use less energy than traditional incandescent lamps. Unless they are recycled, however, the mercury from the disposal of these discarded products can contaminate the air, surface water and ground water.
Rechargeable batteries can and, under Florida law, must be recycled. Toxic heavy metals like cadmium and lead can adversely affect public health and the environment. Fortunately, there is a convenient and free rechargeable battery recycling system available to every resident as well as every business, institutional, government, industrial, commercial, communications or medical facility in the state.
Electronic equipment is everywhere in modern life. Unwanted electronics should be recycled to recover and reuse the product itself or materials like copper, steel or glass that the product contains. Other materials like lead (in the solder on circuit boards; in the glass cathode ray tube (CRT) found in many televisions and computer monitors and mercury (in the fluorescent backlights in many flat panel displays) can be recycled to reuse the materials and to reduce the chance that these toxic materials could be released to the environment.
Paint, batteries, oil, gasoline, pool chemicals, household cleaners, fluorescent bulbs and pesticides are typical examples of hazardous household products that burn, are corrosive, are poisonous or contain toxic chemicals. When disposed of in the municipal solid waste stream (regular trash) or otherwise improperly managed, these materials have the potential of contaminating the ground water - our drinking water supply. Every Florida county has a program that collects household hazardous waste for recycling or proper disposal.
Many of us have medications that we no longer take, are old, have expired, or were used by someone who died. Many of these unwanted medications contain compounds that are known sometimes as emerging substances of concern. While the concentrations of these substances found in our water bodies are hundreds or thousands of times lower than the therapeutic dosages found in the medications that we take, research has shown that there can be effects on aquatic organisms like fish and frogs. We can reduce the amount of these substances by properly disposing of unwanted medications.
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.