Walton County residents gathered June 27 at Somerby Assisted Living to talk about recycling ideas and how South Walton can become more environmentally conscious.

"We have 74 residents living at Somerby and they are really into recycling," Community Liaison Lisa Wainwright told the group. "They bring us their newspapers to recycle."

Business owner Mike Ragsdale said when out in the community he finds it hard to answer why we don't recycle.

"It's an incredibly complex issue and not easy to solve," said Ragsdale. "We are stretched out over 26 miles and there is no city here to collect the tax from recycling. This won't happen overnight, but there is significant room for improvement."

Walton County's current recycling program consists of big blue bins that are at various drop sites.

In addition, the EZ-PZ recycling company based in Niceville will come to your door and pick up on Tuesdays and Thursdays for $20 a month.

"We have 12,000-15,000 full-time residents. We have to do a better job of educating. We have recycling, it's just not sophisticated. It's time to make some serious progress," said Ragsdale.

Attorney Wells Robinson of Montgomery put together a Walton County environmental improvement project for the group resulting from research from across the country.

His research shows that only 7 percent of Walton County recycles and most of that is cardboard, at 52 percent.

However, 163,000 tons of garbage still goes into the landfill every year.

Most of what is dumped into the landfill is construction and demolition debris.

"If we could just do construction recycling that would be 47 percent," said Robinson. "We need to get the community involved. It needs to be a private and public investment."

As the grass-roots group looked at possibilities, an incinerator is one possibility that was mentioned.

Debbie Heard, representing South Walton Community Council, said she would love to work with other interested parties to get a better recycling program for the county.

"The county has to do something," she said.

There will be more meetings to discuss possibilities of what can be done.

To keep up with the conversation, visit 30arecycling.com. To volunteer, email recycle@30a.com