Osceola commissioners expand recycling program, making it a countywide service now.

The residents of the Polk County side of Poinciana, like the ones in Solivita, already have a recycling program. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

POINCIANA – For years, Osceola County’s two cities have offered residents a curbside recycling program that’s been lauded for helping the environment.
But the program currently available in Kissimmee and St. Cloud was not being offered in the unincorporated parts of fast-growing Osceola County. That’s about to change, though.
On Monday, Feb. 6, Osceola County commissioners voted to expand its recycling program, making it available across the entire county. The commissioners are now putting a contract out to bid for this service.
For County Commissioner Brandon Arrington, the expanded program will be particularly good news, he said, for his constituents in Poinciana, a community of 10 villages in unincorporated parts of Osceola and Polk counties.
“The county commissioners voted to expand our curbside recycling to the entire county, and that’s great for Poinciana,” Arrington said. “This is going to be great for the environment as well.”
Recycling, though, won’t be entirely new to all of Poinciana. Polk County adopted a recycling program two years ago, and the villages in Poinciana on the Polk side have able to recycle, while the Osceola villages did not, said Jeanette Coughenour, manager of the Association of Poinciana Villages, the community’s homeowner’s association.
“Polk County already has it,” she said. “And as far as I’m aware, participation is pretty high.”
Coughenour said it was great to expand recycling to cover the entire community, and she added that this would help make Poinciana a cleaner place.
“Obviously it’s an environmental positive for us,” she said. “It also discourages dumping.”
There have been discussions over the past few months about expanding the recycling program throughout Osceola County, although in the past few years the county has struggled due to the collapse of the housing market and the subsequent impact on tax revenues and the budget. But Arrington said the commissioners finally decided it was time to move forward with this recycling program, recognizing its benefits.
Coughenour said she welcomes the move.
“I know the two cities have it in Osceola County, St. Cloud and Kissimmee,” she said. “So Osceola County has had a gage on how that’s working. It’s a good thing.”
So far the recycling program has been run smoothly and efficiently in Polk County, said Nick Murdock, a resident of Solivita, the active adult development on the Polk side of Poinciana.
“From the Solivita standpoint, the collection works great,” Murdock said. “They collect every Tuesday, and some people have two or three buckets out there. It’s worked well here.”
Murdock agreed that it was important to expand a program like this to all 10 of Poinciana’s villages, since recycling helps the environment, makes the community cleaner, and gives residents a sense of pride about where they live.
“There have been discussions of having over 50 percent of everything we throw out be a recycled item,” Murdock said. “I think that’s a good idea. We throw away so much, anything more we can recycle will be good for the entire community.”
Coughenour expects the new recycling program to go into effect within the next couple of months, once Osceola commissioners settle on a firm to hire to operate it.
“They’ll crunch the numbers and see what makes the most economic sense,” she said. “It’s probably several months out yet. The commission will vote on a contract and it will become effective and they’ll make sure the recycling containers are properly delivered to all residential households. It’s great for the environment, and it’s great if we can encourage people to recycle. ”
It will be the same recycling program offered in each village in Poinciana, Coughenour said, and the commissioners would not be working out separate details with each individual village.
“Our villages only have to deal with Osceola County, whether you’re in villagess 1, 2, 5 or 9,” Coughenour said. “They don’t have to deal with the individual villages. They just deal with the counties in bulk.”

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