Curbside recycling is about to get easier.
In an effort to increase participation in the county's recycling program, officials are allowing households to ditch the blue bags and choose their own container, affixed with a sticker the county will mail out this month.
The idea is that the resident can choose a can, a cart or a bin, sticker it and put it at the curb on recycling day.
"Making recycling convenient to the citizens is a key," said Jennifer Seney, Pasco County's recycling coordinator. "Rather than asking our citizens to purchase blue bags, folks can now use any permanent container they want. All they have to do is sticker it and put it by the curb."
Residents will receive a brochure in mid-June, along with a reflective sticker, which will tell garbage collectors that the container is used for recyclables.
Pasco County and its seven licensed trash haulers have been meeting for several months to brainstorm on how to improve curbside recycling participation.
In Pasco, only 4 percent of the trash collected from single-family homes is recycled. Other nearby counties report recycling rates of 30 to 41 percent.
The result of this collaboration is the new program called "Choose & Use Your Own Container."
It replaces the traditional blue bag program, which was unpopular with residents. However, those who like the blue or clear recycling bags can keep using them sans stickers.
"Trash haulers already recognize this as recycling," Seney said. "We don't want folks losing their stickers by putting them on bags."
Residents began seeing news of the change in newspaper and cable television ads.
The county also will distribute information "to the haulers, to public libraries, other public venues and any other place that seems appropriate," Seney said.
The program is also expanding the types of plastic allowed. Now the program will accept plastics coded #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and #7. Plastics coded #6, which includes Styrofoam, will not be accepted.
The stickers are free. Additional stickers can be obtained from trash haulers. Pasco County's residential curbside recycling program is available to anyone who has twice-a-week trash pickup. There is no extra charge for recycling — it's included in the price of trash pickup. People who use Dumpsters do not have recycling service but can use area drop-offs around the county. Except for the core of Zephyrhills, which has its own recycling program, residents of cities also will be included in the sticker program.