CLEARWATER — The Pinellas County Commission threw a proposal for curbside recycling in the scrap heap Tuesday.
County Administrator Bob LaSala suggested a plan last month that would have added government-run curbside recycling in unincorporated Pinellas , which is now the only part of the county without the service.
But the latest incarnation of the plan also included trash pickup, which would have forced some residents to change hauling companies. That triggered opposition from residents and haulers that resonated with commissioners.
"We are a rather determined bunch in the unincorporated areas, aren't we?" said Dot Miller, who lives near Seminole.
Commissioners decided to end the recycling plan and asked their staff to draft a proposal to set minimum service standards for haulers, including a requirement that they offer curbside recycling.
It was a loss for advocates of recycling and government-run trash pickup.
"I hope I don't have to be in a nursing home before you get all this straightened out," said Jo-An Totty, who has pressed for better waste and recycling pickup in Palm Harbor for years.
About 300,000 people — roughly one-third of Pinellas' population — live in unincorporated areas and contract with private companies for trash and recycling because the county doesn't offer the services.
Haulers told the board that most companies already offer recycling pickup as an option, and a recent poll showed 43 percent of residents recycle in the unincorporated area — up 11 percentage points from two years ago.
Public pressure to add the service dimmed after St. Petersburg started a program in the fall, making it the last city in Pinellas to get one. Even before then, the commission had delayed the program because of the costs, estimated at $10 million annually.
Commissioner Ken Welch, the board's biggest recycling supporter, said he didn't press for it because the votes weren't there to support adding the service
David DeCamp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8779.