BELLEAIR BLUFFS — Proper recycling of waste materials in a changing world does not have to be a difficult process.

Residents can recycle the right way by following a few simple rules, said Stephanie Watson, of Pinellas County Solid Waste Education and Management.

Watson spoke at the Oct. 21 City Commission meeting along with Melissa Baldwin from the recycling department at Waste Management, the city’s trash hauler.

City Administrator Debra Sullivan said proper recycling is “a huge education for people, to try and change the way they think.”

Baldwin suggested people should remember the “3 Rs” of recycling: reduce, reuse, and recycle, in that order. Most important is to reduce the amount of waste in the first place by refusing to take items that aren’t needed, such as bags or straws. Reusing items such as tote bags, bottles or eating utensils instead of using disposable items is the next step. And then, recycling diverts some trash to other uses.

In addition to those actions taken by individuals, the county goes a step further with “recovery,” by creating electricity from burning waste materials.

Watson said recycling can be made easy by remembering a few simple rules. The recyclable items are “clean and dry paper, cardboard, bottles, jugs and cans. That’s it,” she said.

Everything must be empty, dry and unbagged. Plastic bags should not be used, Watson said, because they tend to get entangled in the processing equipment. Do not recycle anything smaller than a fist or hockey puck, she said, because those things also cause problems with the equipment. Bottles and jars can be recycled, but lids can’t. Metal cans are recyclable; other metal items are not. No food-soiled or greasy items, and no Styrofoam should be put in recycling bins.

Not all plastic is acceptable for recycling. Stick to bottles and jugs, Watson said. For example, hangers and plastic toys should not be recycled. A general rule is “if in doubt, throw it out.”

Baldwin said recycling is “turning something old into something new.” But the markets are changing. China, for example, “used to buy 30%of what we shipped. Now, they buy less than 2,” she said.

“So we have global supply still very big, and global demand now less than half of what it was,” she said.

Baldwin said the focus on recyclable items should be on “clean and dry paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and jugs, steel and aluminum cans, because those items still have saleable value in the world markets.”

“The first priority should be to reuse items when possible,” Baldwin said.

West side tree trimming to begin soon

The trimming of low-hanging tree branches over the streets, which has been completed on the city’s east side, will be starting early next month on the west side, Public Works Supervisor Russ Schmader said.

Phase I of the project is due to begin Nov. 6-7, and will include Los Gatos Drive, Del Rio Drive, Lentz Road, Bayway and Pinehurst avenues, plus Jewel Road and Renatta Drive east of Lentz.

Schmader said Sherwood Tree Co., the city’s arborist, is ready to go to work on the job. The company will “elevate the canopies under the trees for 15-feet ground clearance whose spreading branches have become an obstacle to traffic,” according to the contract.

City roadway, infrastructure repairs being handled “in-house”

City work crews have completed roadway repair projects in several locations and a stormwater repair project on Renatta Drive.

Schmader said in his monthly report to the commission that the use of city workers rather than an outside firm “has allowed the Public Works Department to address these issues in a more time-efficient and cost-effective manner.”

Commissioner Jack Nazario commended Schmader for doing more city maintenance and repair jobs in-house.

“I think it’s very apparent that you are giving your people a lot more opportunities to learn about doing things in the city, using our equipment, instead of going and hiring outside people to do the job,” Nazario said.

“The residents deserve it,” said Schmader.

Schmader also said the City Hall roof replacement is “99.9% complete.”

Board of Adjustments opening

Sullivan said another member is needed on the city’s Board of Adjustments. Any resident interested in joining the board can apply at City Hall or get the application form on the city’s website.