A recycling program is now mandatory for all commercial establishments on Estero Island.
The Fort Myers Beach Town Council unanimously adopted an ordinance to approve the action for businesses on Estero Island during a public hearing Monday. The policy goes into effect Nov. 1, 2013.
Commercial establishments will be required to recycle at least one type of recyclable material that they generate, and that matter must constitute the largest portion of the business's waste stream. For instance a bar would have to recycle bottles and/or cans.
Town officials have made recycling a mandatory priority for Beach businesses and will implement policy on Nov. 1, 2013. That adoption comes after recycling trash cans were approved to be placed at beach accesses on the beachfront.
The Town business recycling adoption was a topic of discussion for Town officials at a work session on Feb. 7, before it was moved to a Council meeting on Feb. 22. It was then talked over again at another work session on May 20. A draft ordinance was re-introduced at a Council meeting on June 17, after revisions were made to it at the prior work session.
"My biggest concern is that you have to make it easy for people to recycle," said Councilman Dan Andre. "For the most part, I think most of the businesses on the island are doing it already."
Before Council voted on the matter, Town Manager Terry Stewart reported "no feedback" regarding the ordinance. He recommended the time allowance to help all involved some leeway to get adjusted and prepared.
"It seems as if there is a pretty strong acceptance by the business community," he said. "My recommendation gives Town staff the opportunity to reach out to businesses and make sure that they understand what the requirements are."
Required participation in recycling among Beach businesses would involve "recovered materials," including metal, paper, glass, plastic, textile or rubber materials that have known recycling potential, according to Town records. Lee County has a mandatory business recycling program, but Fort Myers Beach is exempt from it.
Businesses at Time Square will most likely have a shared recycling bin. Andre expressed concern about recycling in that Town center.
"Town staff has been looking into it, and they are trying to work out the kinks. They are trying to find a central location where all the recyclables could be," said Andre. "That would be opposed to each business having to have a separate container."
Andre, the co-owner of Mango Street Inn, recycles at his business and recently stated he pays $76 per month for Advanced Disposal to pick up both trash and recycling materials. Of his business' total solid waste, roughly 65 percent is recycled materials.
Commercial establishments can go that route by contracting with the County franchise hauler or with any properly certified recovered materials dealer, one that is certified by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to handle, purchase, receive, recover, sell or is an end user of recovered materials.
To prove that a business is participating in the program, the Town will have jurisdiction to request proof of a valid and current contract with either a hauler or a dealer. The commercial establishment can also supply copies of receipts for delivery of recyclable material to said dealer come November.
Any business found in violation or failing to comply could be punished.
Andre, a noted conservationist who was instrumental in getting recycling bins at each of the Town's beach accesses as a member of the Marine Resources Task Force a few years back, sought feedback to see if the program would financially hurt businesses. A round table discussion with affected Beach business owners was proposed before passing an ordinance, but not enough Beach business representatives showed up to express a concern at the June 17 meeting.
The councilman is still willing to help any business officials that may have concerns in recycling. He can be reached at 765-0202 (ext. 120).
"I'd be happy to talk to anyone," said Andre. "They can contact me and I'll arrange a meeting with someone at Advanced Disposal. We just want to work it out so that everybody will recycle."
Town re-finances water loan
The Town of Fort Myers Beach has re-financed the original purchase debt for the island's potable water system through resolutions with a 1.81 interest rate.
Council unanimously approved the action before the prior utility system note matured in August 2013.
According to Town records, Town officials financed the acquisition of the water utility in 2001, then re-financed in August 2010. The note is now good for 11 years.