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Our Waste Stream

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Find out what's in it and where it all goes.

Every day, waste collection trucks travel our City streets picking up garbage, yard waste, bulk trash and recycling. Almost everything we make or buy could end up in one of those trucks, and therefore our waste stream, at some point. Our goal as a community is to manage that flow the best way we can. You, the City and the materials handling companies are partners in this effort.

  • What goes into the waste stream is the part that you control.
  • Where it all goes is where the City’s Public Works Department and Office of Sustainability gets involved.  
  • How it is processed or disposed of is taken care of by private industry.

Throughout this process our goals are to: minimize the overall volume of materials sent into the waste stream, make sure that what goes in gets to the right part of the stream, maximize the number of times that materials are treated and put back into use, and finally to complete permanent disposal in the most effective way possible.

Where does all of the trash go?

Journey of TrashDoes our recycling really get recycled?  Are we shipping our trash overseas? Those are some of the most frequently asked questions in forums on waste and recycling. In Fort Lauderdale, where waste goes is determined by three things: where the person who tosses it puts it, what kind of waste it is, and the markets for recycled materials and energy.  

The key is to get each item into the right part of the waste stream.  Cities, including Fort Lauderdale, take great care to direct waste based on where it is "dropped." The most important thing that you can do is to be sure that you put waste in its place. We'll do the rest!  So, what happens to our waste?


In our region, true waste is sent in one of two different directions: either to a clean landfill or to a waste-to-energy plant. Both are safe and necessary assets of a growing community.


Generally, recyclables placed in recycling containers do make it to processors who can re-manufacture them into raw materials. The collection, sorting and packaging of those recyclables happens right here in our region. Recyclables which are contaminated beyond use (such as oil-soaked cardboard) would be removed from that waste stream early in the process, and sent the way of garbage instead. Recyclables which have little or no market value, may also be removed and diverted for re-use or disposal instead.  Recyclables bundled by retailers who set up collection as a matter of customer service (such as food retailers who collect plastic bags and foam) can generally be trusted to reach a reputable recycling processor.

Yard Waste

Plant materials placed in our green carts, as well as those removed from our parks, beaches and other public spaces, are used to make compost.

Household Hazardous Waste (including electronics)

Hazardous items collected at any of our drop off events, secure collection boxes, Federally-certified processors in the area, and specialized retailers who volunteer to receive such items (such as automotive waste and medications) are channeled to appropriate processors that can safely dismantle them for usable parts, or dispose of them without harm to the public.

Read more about each of these waste streams in this section of our website by clicking on the menu items on the left.

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