LARGO — The city is making plans to adopt a single-stream recycling program, which officials hope will encourage more residents to recycle more materials.
At a Largo City Commission work session last week, city recycling coordinator Marissa Segundo and other staff members discussed the coming update to the city's residential recycling program.
The current program started in 1991, and the percentage of recyclables in the city waste stream actually being recycled has plateaued at about 22 percent, Segundo said, despite the city's efforts to boost participation.
The current program provides curbside pickup of recyclables once a week. Residents receive a blue bin for their recyclables that they carry to the street. They may recycle plastic bottles (Nos. 1 and 2), mixed paper, aluminum cans and flattened cardboard.
Under the single-stream program, residents will toss recyclable items into a new cart with wheels similar to the city's garbage bins. While now two people must be employed to empty the bins into a truck, an automated truck operated by just one driver will pick up the new carts — safer for workers, said Gene Ginn, assistant solid waste manager.
Residents also will be able to recycle more items, including more types of plastic, juice and milk cartons, aluminum foil and tin cans for dog and cat food.
Single streaming will also let residents recycle glass again. Glass was removed from the list of acceptable recyclables in 2007.
After collection, recyclables will be transported to a material recovery facility, called an "MRF,'' that will have automated equipment capable of cleaning and separating the material all at once.
The City Commission work session included debate about how to launch the program, which will cost about $2 million.
One idea was to unroll it slowly, starting with about 2,500 homes. However, several commissioners were eager to get the new program started citywide as soon as possible.
"I'd really like to see this rolled out as soon as possible, citywide,'' said Commissioner Robert Murray. "I think it's really important. I think we owe it to ourselves and we owe it to future generations to start recycling as much as we can as quickly as we can."
Commissioner Woody Brown also wanted a citywide launch. He hopes to see the day when so much material is recycled that other solid waste will need to be collected by the city only once a week, rather than twice.
"I think (single-stream recycling) is going to be very, very successful," he said.
If the city follows through on a full rollout, the estimated start date would be early next year.
Once the plan is implemented, Largo will become one of 66 other municipalities and counties throughout Florida using a single-stream program, including Dunedin, Oldsmar and Safety Harbor.
Piper Castillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4163.