People who recycle their old bottles and cans at the curb might soon have another option besides Pasco's blue bag system.
The county is working with garbage haulers to allow residents to use their own container, provided it has special stickers designating it as a recycling bin.
County staffers are still finalizing several details, such as the sticker design and how the program would be marketed. The county doesn't have a firm roll-out date for the program, though residents can be on the lookout in the coming months for promotional materials and stickers included in routine bills.
"We tried to make it simple," said Commissioner Henry Wilson. "We just said, you find a container you want to use, put the stickers on it, and they'll empty it."
It can be any old container. A 5-gallon bucket might work for a single person, or a family of four might opt for a larger plastic storage container or a garbage can. Blue bags, which are available at grocery stores and big-box retailers, will still be an option.
The goal is to boost the percentage of residential waste that is recycled. Pasco currently lags at about 4 percent, last among Florida's largest 20 counties.
"It's a good start to a better recycling program," said Wilson, who has included a "recycling minute" as part of each commission meeting.
Though the sticker design is still being finalized, County Administrator John Gallagher said one option is to include a list of common items that are recyclable and a list of items that are not accepted.
"You can't get much easier than this," he said. "Every time I go to my recycling container, which I do, it'll be a constant reminder."
Representatives from nearly every garbage hauler serving Pasco gave the idea their blessing at a meeting last week. County staffers will hash out remaining details at another meeting early next month.
County recycling coordinator Jennifer Seney said the sticker program is a good alternative to the county investing millions of dollars to buy new 18-gallon bins or larger wheeled carts. Bins are cheaper but don't significantly boost recycling levels. Wheeled carts might look more intimidating, but are actually easier to maneuver to the curb.
Also, Seney said, many residents are still confused about where to buy blue bags. Having a dedicated container would simplify matters and eliminate frequent trips to the grocery store.
"It becomes more convenient," she said. "And people are more willing to participate."
Lee Logan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6236.