Published On: Sat, Mar 20th, 2021

More Trash Talk from Palm Beach County Commissioner Robert Weinroth

For the better part of the last year, our community has been focused on the impacts wrought by “the pandemic.” With over 525,000 Americans lost to this disease, we must be grateful to the scientists who mapped the DNA of this new virus and produced several effective vaccines to fight its spread. 

Notwithstanding the frustration many of our residents have expressed at the pace of rolling out the vaccines, we can be proud of the progress made and the likelihood that by the Fall, this will be in our rearview mirror.

That being said, I am going to pivot away from the pandemic and use the majority of this month’s space to refocus on a much more mundane part of life in south Florida, garbage.

As I have mentioned before, one of the responsibilities assigned to the Board of County Commissioners is to oversee the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County. 

This year, my colleagues, again, elected me chair of the SWA. I guess that makes me King of Trash! And so I feel it’s important for me to provide an overview of the operations of this essential government agency.

The Solid Waste Authority is responsible for providing an economical and environmentally conscious Integrated Solid Waste Management System for Palm Beach County.

With approximately 400 employees, the SWA provides solid waste disposal and recycling services and programs to the county’s 1.5 million residents and businesses and also provides solid waste and recycling collection services to the residents and businesses in unincorporated Palm Beach County through private haulers.

The mission of the SWA is to manage the materials discarded by the residents and businesses of Palm Beach County in a manner consistent with its legislative mandate, applicable local, state and federal ordinances, regulations and laws.

The SWA has built an award-winning integrated system of facilities that combines recycling, renewable energy and land filling to effectively manage the county’s waste. The SWA’s system includes two waste-to-energy facilities, landfills, a materials recycling facility, a biosolids processing facility, seven household hazardous waste collection facilities and a network of six transfer stations.

The programs developed and implemented by the SWA are designed to integrate solid waste transportation, processing, recycling, resource recovery and disposal technologies, protect the environment, achieve the state’s 75 percent recycling and waste reduction goal and inform the public about solid waste management issues. 

Recycling is supported by a continuing educational program to help residents understand how and what to recycle. Many well-meaning residents do not recycle effectively causing the recycle stream to be contaminated thus increasing costs to the county.

The SWA provides business with Waste Reviews so they can better manage their garbage and recyclables. Residents need to understand that unless the materials are properly separated, its value is diminished. 

One simple behavioral change is to refrain from placing contaminated materials (e.g., pizza boxes) in with the recyclables.  It is also important to realize that materials placed at the curb (e.g. cardboard boxes) that have not been cut down to fit in the yellow bin will not be recycled. 

Inasmuch as we convert waste to energy, it is better to place an item of questionable recycling value into the garbage – my philosophy is, “When in doubt, throw it out!” 

The SWA Waste-to-Energy facility reduces the volume of waste disposed in the landfill while producing clean energy from household garbage. 

According to the EPA, WTE plants are a “clean, reliable, renewable source of energy” that generate electricity “with less environmental impact than almost any other source of electricity.” In fact, WTE plants improve air quality by decreasing the consumption of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas.

Additionally, the SWA uses landfill gas, which consists primarily of methane, as a renewable energy source to produce clean energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. 

Even though hurricane season is months away, preparing now can help minimize property damage and make our communities safer. The Solid Waste Authority strongly encourages residents to implement a year-round yard maintenance program.    

Major storms can leave behind incredible amounts of debris. For example, after Hurricane Irma, almost 3 million cubic yards of vegetative debris was collected. It took three months and cost more than $39 million to collect and dispose of it all. 

You can help minimize the potential for vegetative debris by starting your hurricane trimming now. 

To learn more about the SWA and how our county is being working to be environmentally friendly, go to:

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 27 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman, former member of the City Council (where he served for four years) and currently serves as an elected member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Supreme Court of the United States. Weinroth served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services Inc, an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. After serving on multiple community boards and committees, Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 2014. During his tenure, he served as CRA Vice-chair and Deputy Mayor and was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport Authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. Commissioner Weinroth serves as County Vice-Mayor and has been appointed Chair of the Solid Waste Authority, a board member of the PBC Transportation Planning Agency, and alternate representative on the Treasure Coast Planning Agency and several other county and regional boards. Robert, Pamela and their two dogs, Sierra and Siggy, are proud to call Boca Raton home.

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