Residential Waste and Recycling FAQs


Recyclable Materials Roll Carts

What do I do with my old recyclable materials yellow bin?

The recyclable materials collection program will no longer use the yellow bins. It is yours to keep, throw away, or return to the county at a later date.

How do I get a recycling cart?

Carts are available to all customers who would like to participate in the county’s recycling program, but they must call or email to request one. Residents may call customer care at Polk County Waste & Recycling at (863) 284-4319 or send an email to PolkWasteWise@polk-county.net.

Roll carts will not automatically be delivered to every household in unincorporated Polk County. Those who have already requested a cart should expect a November delivery.

Why is the 65-gallon recyclable roll cart so big?

This was what customers told us they wanted. The cart size and type were chosen as a result of feedback the county received from several public meetings where residents were invited to share their wants, needs, thoughts and concerns on residential curbside collection.

Was there a reduction in services under the county’s new contract?

There was no reduction in services. Residents still have the opportunity to use four trucks that will pass through their neighborhoods to service their waste and recycling needs.

In 2012, residents received a 9 percent rate reduction and have not seen any increases in 7 years. Rates decreased from $167.50 to $153.80. The current combined rate of $188.50 per year represents competitive pricing for collection and disposal of household waste, yard waste, recyclable materials, and bulk waste.

What if a resident does not want their recyclables materials roll cart?

Residents may call our customer care representatives to schedule the pick-up of their cart, or they may bring it to the Waste & Recycling administrative office, 10 Environmental Loop South in Winter Haven. Roll carts are non-transferable as each has a RFID number that is linked to each resident’s property.

What are my collection days?

Collection days may be found by visiting PolkWasteWise.net and clicking on the “Find your service days” icon located in the Residential Collection Services section. Residents may also call our Waste & Recycling office at (863) 284-4319.

Why do I now have two collection days instead of one?

A two-day system is being used to help manage situations where residents place contaminated and non-recyclable materials in recycling containers, non-conforming yard trash curbside, or other materials inappropriate for curbside service. In these instances the hauler will leave the contaminated recyclable material roll cart curbside with a note that explains why the cart was not picked up. This gives the resident an opportunity to place appropriate materials in the cart or dispose of them properly.

This two day system will result in cleaner communities and promote higher quality recyclable materials, which increases its value and reduces costs to residents.

What materials are accepted in the recyclable materials program?

Newspapers, paper or paper products, aluminum cans, steel or tin cans, cardboard, cereal boxes, most gallon and half gallon opaque or translucent plastics, milk, juice jugs without colored plastic. 

Keeping recyclable materials free of grease, soil and residue is the best way to ensure success. To avoid contamination, only those items listed should be placed in the recyclable materials cart. Items not listed above, should be placed in the garbage roll cart.

Why is the county limiting plastic, in the recyclable materials collection program?

Plastic materials (packaging) are evolving rapidly. With so many types of plastics, many do not blend effectively with one another in the remanufacturing process of a new product. For this reason, Polk County limits it’s collection to products that have the longest environmental and economic value, such as milk jugs.

Many plastics bottles or containers have a number located on the bottom. That number at one time identified the resin used to make the plastic. This numbering system is in the process of being updated because too many additives are being added to resin and it is difficult to categorize them under one number.

Why is glass no longer being accepted in the recyclable materials collection program?

There are currently no commercial manufacturers in Florida accepting post-consumer glass for recycling purposes. The curbside collection of post-consumer glass bottles is not recycling; it is only an initial part. Glass bottles and jars, as a market recycling commodity, have very little value due to its breakability and color diversity.

Another difficulty in marketing post-consumer glass is the abundance of readily-available natural domestic materials (sand, soda ash, and limestone) to make new glass.

Why are there so few things on the list of accepted recyclable materials?

Successful and effective recycling is a key part of waste reduction. The county’s goal is to effectively collect materials having the potential to successfully be reused or recycled into new products. This goal can be achieved when transforming recyclable materials into a new product requires less energy than manufacturing from raw products and contamination is minimized.

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