Duval County

Action News Jax gets an inside look at recycling facility as curbside pickup returns to Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Curbside recycling is back!

Life was interrupted for months when the City of Jacksonville decided to suspend operations. Leaders blamed budget and staffing problems during the pandemic.

While employees there are ready to handle more work, they’re asking everyone to remember where to put their recycling, versus their trash. You can’t put your extra trash inside bins with yellow lids anymore, because it won’t get picked up with the trash.

We got an inside look at the facility off Imeson Road, where Republic Services is ready to go back to processing 300 tons of recyclables a day, or 30 tons an hour.

Previously, the facility processed between 25 and 27 tons of recyclables an hour.

“Over the course of many hours, over many weeks, that’s a big difference,” said Jason Graves, Division Manager at Republic Services.

While the facility handles recycling from Clay and St. Johns counties, the city of Jacksonville contributed a bulk of items.

We were there as city trucks dropped off recyclables after their first pick in months. After that, it was all hands on deck to sort, especially with more hires.

“We’ve been able to add roughly 10 to 14 heads across two shifts,” Graves explained.

But there is an issue that’s preventing the return from flowing as smoothly as it could: plastic bags and soft plastics. Employees have to fish them out and set them on a separate conveyor belt for trash. They can cause mechanical issues.

“[The bags] wrap around the tail pulleys and head pulleys and we have to stop and clean those things,” Graves said.

They’re also a hazard.

“We have found hypodermic needles or there could be, you know, broken glass or anything, many different sharp things to our employees so we don’t rip the bags open,” Graves pointed out.

So when in doubt, you are urged to throw it out. “If you do [recycling] wrong at the house, it could affect other people that are doing it right,” Graves emphasized.

The site off Imeson Road used to be one of the 15 drop-off sites across the City of Jacksonville. Now, it’s a standalone, but it will stay open.

On Monday, our Action News Jax crew saw a few people trickle through.

It’s important to note that you should check your own neighborhood’s schedule for your specific pickup days. You verify it here.