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April 30, 2010

TALLAHASSEE –Associated Industries of Florida supports the passage of HB 7243, an effort led by Sen. Lee Constantine (R-Altamonte Springs) and Rep. Trudi Williams (R-Fort Myers) and co-sponsored by Rep. Baxter Troutman (R-Winter Haven) and Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D-Tallahassee), which will place a new emphasis on recycling.  One of the key components of the legislation is the creation of the Recycling Business Assistance Center (RBAC).  The RBAC will guide businesses in marketing recycled materials, establish new markets for recycled products and institute incentives for recycling. 

“The Recycling Business Assistance Center will encourage private businesses to maintain recycling efforts in the long-term by offering new ways to market recyclable products,” said Sen. Constantine. “My thanks to AIF’s Environmental Sustainability Council for their positive suggestions to enhance recycling efforts throughout the state.   Their recommendations for a recycling program that is both cost effective and environmentally friendly can be seen throughout the legislation.  I applaud the Council’s vision to create the Recycling Business Assistance Center, which is an integral part of the legislation.”

Two years ago, the Legislature passed the Energy, Climate Change and Economic Security Act of 2008 (ECCESA) which initiated a statewide goal to increase recycling rates to 75 percent by 2020.  The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was responsible for creating a plan to achieve this goal, which had to be submitted to the Legislature by January 2010.  DEP’s recommendations included creation of the RBAC. As outlined in HB 7243, DEP, with assistance from Enterprise Florida, Inc., is responsible for creating the RBAC.

The legislation will also instruct state agencies and public buildings to release their recycling rates to their respective counties and require the DEP to detail the state’s recycling rates to the Legislature every two years. 

“These new requirements will allow Florida to become a national leader in recycling.  By improving the state’s recycling rate to 75 percent by 2020, our state will be at the forefront of enacting important environmental regulations,” said Rep. Williams. “Additionally, the Legislature will now regularly review Florida’s recycling program and ensure recycling efforts increase throughout the state by setting attainable goals for cities and counties.”

Private businesses will have the opportunity to participate in the program, but the legislation will not enforce any mandates on businesses.  Businesses will report recycling rates to DEP, which will create a comprehensive system for collecting information on recycling activity in the state.

“We commend the Legislature for passing a bill that will be beneficial to our environment and encourage recycling throughout the state. We are pleased the bill included many of the Council's recommendations including the Recycling Business Assistance Center and will provide an opportunity for businesses to expand their recycling efforts in Florida,” said Michelle Belaire, Council Chair of the AIF Environmental Sustainability Council (ESC) and Senior Manager of Public Affairs and Government Relations at Wal-Mart.

Environmental issues, including recycling, are crucial to the business community because they impact existing industry, as well as companies that wish to bring their business to Florida.  In 2009, AIF established the ESC, which evolved from the former Recycling Task Force, to inform lawmakers on both Florida’s economic climate and environmental concerns facing the state.