The Good, the Bad, and the Garbage : The Making of Modern Florida Solid Waste Policy

Andrew David Fairbanks

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Liberal Arts, Department of Florida Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Abstract

In 2008, Florida enacted its Energy, Climate Change, and Economic Security Act (2008 Energy Act). Among its provisions was a new goal to recycle 75 percent of municipal solid waste, the highest statewide recycling goal in the U.S. at that time. Florida's previous goal was 30 percent, set by its Solid Waste Management Act in 1988. The 2008 Energy Act also modified how the state calculates its recycling rate by specifying that “any solid waste used for the production of renewable energy” would be counted. The 2008 Energy Act directed the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop a plan to achieve the new goal. The DEP sought and received input from stakeholders, and provided its conclusions to the governor and legislature in 2010. Subsequent legislation did little to alter solid waste management practices in Florida, but initially calculated recycling rates in excess of 100 percent for some counties that use waste-to-energy facilities. An ethnography of this policymaking process is couched in terms of its historical background (since 1900, with emphasis on post-WWII Florida), contemporary participants (stakeholder perspectives), and global significance (impacts of waste and policies for its reduction). Recommendations for more effective policymaking are interpreted from this research.