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Residential Recycling- Frequently Asked Questions

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Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Mix it. Curb it. residential recycling program. For additional information, please contact the City of Fort Lauderdale 24-Hour Customer Service Center at 954-828-8000 or online. Customer Service may also be reached via LauderServ, the City’s android application for mobile devices.

For ease of access, these questions are organized into seven categories:

  1. Program Overview
  2. Program Materials
  3. Cart Information
  4. Cart Placement
  5. Old Recycling Bins
  6. Notices
  7. Missed Pick-up and Service Complaints

Program Overview

1. What is Mix it. Curb it.?
Mix it. Curb it. is the City of Fort Lauderdale’s single-stream recycling program. Single-stream recycling is a process where clean recyclable materials are collected together in one container. This means you can mix steel, aluminum, plastic and glass food and beverage containers, paper, cardboard, and other accepted recyclable materials together without sorting them into separate carts or bins. 

2. Why did the City convert to single-stream recycling carts?
The City is committed to building community by offering sustainable programs and services that help reduce our impact on the environment. Mix it. Curb it. was launched in the Summer of 2012 to encourage participation by making recycling easier and more convenient.  The idea was that, if more people recycle, it increases the amount of recyclables collected, which reduces the amount of garbage the City pays to dispose, and increases revenues which can be used to pay for solid waste services and therefore keep fees low.  It worked!  Within a few months of launching the program, we significantly increase in tonnage collected and we have never looked back.

3. What are the advantages of the Mix it. Curb it. recycling program?

  • You can mix all clean recyclables into one cart
  • The cart has more capacity than bins, which means fewer trips to the curb
  • The cart can be pushed easily to the curb; no heavy lifting
  • The cart lid prevents exposure to the elements and limits the scattering of litter
  • Carts make recycling collection more efficient, cost effective and safer by enabling the use of automated trucks

4. Will my recycling pickup day ever change?
The City of Fort Lauderdale does not anticipate any changes to the recycling collection schedule at this time.  Recyclables will still be collected one time each week. However, we are always looking for ways to make collection more convenient, more sustainable and lower cost. Throughout the City, we have a goal to lower fuel usage and reduce the number of vehicles on our streets.  To meet this goal, we may look at the way our vendors route solid waste collection. If changes to routes are ever necessary, you will be given ample notice via a number of communication tools.  At any time, you can check your route and schedule on our GIS Information Reporter.

5. Do I have to pay for the blue 65-gallon recycling cart?
No, one blue cart is provided by the City to residential solid waste customers at no charge as part of the Mix it. Curb it. recycling program.

Program Materials

6. What materials can I place in the recycling cart?

You can recycle a lot!  In the average household,almost 85% of solid waste is recyclable.  Examples include:

  • Plastic containers with a narrow neck such as water bottles, milk jugs, shampoo containers, etc.
  • Aseptic/paperboard containers such as juice and wine cartons, drink boxes, milk cartons, frozen food packaging, dry food boxes, etc.
  • Glass food and beverage containers
  • Metal cans and lids
  • Pizza boxes, free of grease spots and food particles
  • Paper (such as junk mail, inserts, newspapers, magazines, catalogs, soft cover books, paper grocery bags), office paper, and any paper that tears
  • Shredded paper in paper bags (not plastic bags)
  • Cut/flattened cardboard no larger than 4 feet x 2 feet

For a complete list and a printable Quick Reference Guide, visit What and How to Recycle in Fort Lauderdale.

7. What is not allowed in the cart?

8. Do I need to rinse out food and beverage containers?
Yes.  A quick rinse helps to eliminate odors and contributes to cleaner processing.

Cart Information

9. Are recycling carts available in sizes other than the 65-gallon cart?
Yes. 

  • Larger carts: Neighbors who routinely fill their 65-gallon carts to capacity via clean and proper recycling, may contact Customer Service to request a swap for a larger 95-gallon cart.  There will be no charge for the swap. 
  • Smaller carts: We understand that some of our neighbors have physical limitations which prevent them from safely utilizing a 65-gallon cart.  If this situation applies to you, please contact Customer Service to inquire about a swap for a smaller 35-gallon cart.  PLEASE NOTE: We cannot offer smaller carts for any other reason

In all cases, a request to swap a cart for a larger or smaller size will require a site visit by City of Fort Lauderdale personnel.  We keep a limited inventory of alternate cart sizes, therefore we ask you to request swaps only when there is a genuine need.  Please keep in mind that requests may be denied or delayed pending availability or results of the site visit.

10. What happens if I move?
Since each recycling cart is assigned to a property address, you must leave it on the premises for the next resident.  You should also notify the 24-Hour Customer Service Center to report the date you will be leaving the property. 

11. What should I do if my recycling cart is damaged or stolen?
If your recycling cart is damaged or stolen, please contact the 24-Hour Customer Service Center at 954-828-8000 for assistance with repairing or replacing it.

12. I am going on vacation for a long time, or going away for the season.  Should I leave my cart behind?
Since each recycling cart is assigned to a property address, you must leave it on the premises even if you are not there.  However, you should notify the 24-Hour Customer Service Center to report the date you will be leaving the property and also the date you will return.  Please see out Solid Waste services page for more information.

13. I live in a cottage/duplex/triplex.  We only have one cart.  Why?
The general rule is one cart per utility (water) account.  In most cases, this will correspond to one cart per home or unit.  However, for multi-family units where the utility account is shared, and where there is only one account, we can only provide one cart.  Residents will need to share the cart.  Here are some tips for sharing:

  • Place the cart in a convenient location for everyone.
  • Use an interior staging container.  Staging means saving up your recyclables until they can be deposited into your cart.  Using a paper bag for staging can be convenient because the bag and its contents can be tossed into your cart.  (Plastic bags cannot be placed in the cart.)  For a more permanent staging container, try a large bucket.  The handle makes it easier for you to carry.  Some stores and online providers carry specially shaped and labeled interior recycling bins.
  • Agree on who will roll the cart to the curb and back.  Try a divide and conquer method where each household is responsible for one of the colored carts.
  • If your cart is routinely full to the point where the lid cannot be closed properly, your building owner may request to swap it for a larger size.  Please see Question 9 for more information.

14. I live in a multi-family building.  We do not have a blue recycling cart.  Why?
The Mix it. Curb it. program is for our neighbors who live in single-family homes, in cottages on home sites, and in duplexes or triplexes.  Multi-family building with four or more units can participate in recycling too, but must contract with a private hauler.  Other than who collects your recycling, the same guidelines for what can be recycled should apply.  Get more information here.

Cart Placement

15. Where should I place the cart for collection?
Place your recycling cart on a level, solid surface near the edge of the street by 7 a.m. on your collection day, but no more than 24 hours prior to collection. Make sure to place your cart with the wheels and handle facing your home.

To make sure collection vehicles can safely access your cart, place it at least 2 feet apart and away from the following:

  • Other carts
  • Bulk trash and yard waste piles
  • Mailboxes and fences
  • Overhead obstructions such as tree branches and wires
  • Parked cars
  • Storm drains
  • Telephone/electric poles
  • Tree trunks

You can access more information about Curbside Placement and Cart Etiquette here.

16. Do I have to close the lid on my cart when setting it curbside?
Yes, it is important to keep the lid on your cart closed at all times. This keeps recyclables dry and prevents them from blowing out of the cart and littering your neighborhood.

17. My cart is not full.  Do I have to set it out?
No.  There is no requirement to put your cart curbside each week.  Recycling is voluntary and free.  If your cart is not full, then you can wait to the next pick-up date or even beyond to set it out.

Bins

18. May I continue to use the old recycling bins or another type of container instead of the new recycling cart provided by the City?
No. The only container allowed for the collection of recyclables is the blue cart.  The automated collection trucks are only able to collect recyclables placed inside the recycling cart. Cardboard and boxes can be cut down to size. Chances are if the object that you are trying to dispose is too big for your cart, then it is probably not recyclable. Oversized items can be donated or set out in bulk trash.

19. What if I have old recycling bins?
You may keep your old recycling bins for other household uses, such as gardening, laundry, indoor collection of recyclables, etc.; however, you may not use them for curbside recycling collection service.

20. What if I want to dispose of an old recycling bin?
If you do not want to keep your old bins, simply place them into your recycling cart to be collected on your service day with your recyclables.

Notices and Missed Pick-up

21. I received an “Uh Oh” notice.  What do I do?
An “Uh Oh” notice is just a friendly reminder to follow recycling guidelines.  If you have received this notice, it means that your collection driver noticed that there was something about your cart contents or placement that needs to be changed.  Please review the information on the notice, as well as the instructions on your cart and here on this website, and try to follow them as closely as possible.  If you still have questions, feel free to call our Recycling Hotline at 954-828-7705.  We are always happy to teach our neighbors how to recycle more and better, and we can advise you on disposal of other waste items.  

22. I received a Recycling Cart Contamination notice.  What do I do?
Contaminated recyclables can be rejected by the materials processing facility.  In fact, one “bad cart” can spoil the whole truckload!  That means that we need to send those materials to a garbage disposal site and pay for them to be burned or buried.  If the load is contaminated with household hazardous waste (HHW), we may need to expend additional labor and dollars to clean those out before the waste can be handled.  That is why we take proper recycling so seriously.  It’s a matter of safety and of keeping your collection costs low.  Diverting loads from recycling also means missed opportunities to do the right thing for the environment.  So, we try to give you a lot of chances and a lot of assistance, but eventually we may need to pull your blue cart from service.

We utilize a four-stage communication process to correct contamination. 

  1. First Contamination: You likely received an “Uh Oh” notice.  (Please see the answer to question 14 above.)
  2. Second Contamination: A notice will be placed on the cart handle.  The cart will not be serviced.  Please remove the contents, sort appropriately, and set out your carts the following pick-up day.  Please pay special attention to what goes into your blue cart in the future.  Recyclables only, please.
  3. Third Contamination: Same as above.  In addition, a representative of the Office of Sustainability will contact you to provide additional instruction, up to and perhaps including an on-site visit
  4. Fourth Contamination: The blue cart will be removed from your property.  Recycling service will not be provided to your household.  You may contact Customer Service for more information.

If you received a Recycling Cart Contamination notice, please take immediate action to correct what you are placing in your blue recycling cart.  Garbage goes in the black carts only.  Yard waste and other plant material goes in the green cart only.  eWaste and HHW requires special handling.  Bulk waste should be set curbside according to your neighborhood’s schedule.  Specific instructions for handling all of these items are on this website.  If after reviewing those you still have questions, feel free to call Customer Service at 954-828-8000.  We are always happy to teach our neighbors how to recycle more and better, and we can advise you on disposal of other waste items.  

Pick-Up Problems or Complaints

23. It is past my usual pick-up time.  What do I do?
While our drivers try to keep a consistent schedule, everything from vehicle break-downs to traffic to weather can affect the actual time that your recyclables will be collected.  Hours of collection are 7 am to 6 pm on the scheduled service day. Please be patient. Leave your recycling cart curbside. If you are concerned that it’s getting too late, or if the other carts on your street have already been emptied, call our 24-hour Customer Service Hotline, and our representatives will be happy to check on the truck’s location.  Please note that pick-up can also occur early.  As long as your cart is curbside by 7am, your recycling will be collected. 

24. Should I call the hauler?   

No, we will be happy to follow up on all of your questions and concerns.  We maintain a close working relationship with our collection vendor. We closely monitor the collection vendor's performance to ensure compliance with their contractual requirements. If ever you experience a problem regarding the collection of your recyclables, please contact Customer Service immediately at 954-828-8000 or online.

 

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