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Clearwater to test bigger, better recycling program

CLEARWATER — That rectangular yellow recycling bin outside your house has problems.

It's too small. Too open to wind and rain. Too difficult to lug. It may even be annoying enough to keep you from recycling.

That's bad for the environment and costly for the city, which makes money off recyclables. So starting next year, for a few neighborhoods at least, the city is going to make recycling a lot easier.

Before the first pickup Feb. 1, officials will roll out new 64-gallon recycling carts to the Island Estates, Plaza Park, Tropic Hills, Navajo Park and Grovewood neighborhoods, for pickup once a week alongside your black trash barrel.

The new blue carts are more than three times bigger than the old bins. They're closed on top. And they're outfitted with wheels so you can roll, not heft.

You also can put more kinds of recyclables in them. In the yellow bins, you could deposit newspaper, mixed paper, plastic bottles and tin or aluminum cans. If you get one of the new bins, you can also recycle cardboard and all kinds of paper and plastic, without a need to sort.

The city hopes the more convenient single-stream recycling will almost double the number of households participating in recycling. City households pay $2.26 a month for recycling service, but only one in three actually recycles at the curb.

Recyclables will be trucked to a waste plant in Lakeland, where an expensive sorting machine will use lasers and magnets to separate the goods for shipment.

The city makes money selling recyclables — about $300,000 last year, down from a $1 million peak in 2007. Recycling also costs less than trucking trash to the Pinellas County Waste-to-Energy Facility at a cost of $37.50 a ton.

But the service isn't yet perfect. Glass still needs to be dropped off at the city's Solid Waste Facility at 1701 N Hercules Ave.

The single-stream pilot program will last six months in the named neighborhoods. Earl Gloster, the city's director of solid waste and general services, said it looks likely that the change will expand citywide.

"The easier, more convenient we make it, the more apt they are to participate," Gloster said. He learned about the new methods at a solid-waste conference in Texas earlier this year.

"It was an epiphany for me," Gloster said. "This is the way we need to go."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or dharwell@sptimes.com.

Clearwater to test bigger, better recycling program 11/16/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 6:32pm]
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