SAFETY HARBOR — To make the city a little greener, Safety Harbor plans to roll out a new single-stream recycling program.
The program will let residents put all their recyclables into one big green bin. The aim is to increase participation in recycling, but it also stands to save the city thousands of dollars.
That's because it costs a lot more to dispose of trash than it does to recycle. And a lot of what gets thrown away could be recycled instead.
Beginning in January, the city's public works department will move the first residents over to single-stream recycling. Residents will receive new 64-gallon recycling bins with wheels and a yellow lid that will explain what is recyclable and what isn't.
For Safety Harbor residents, this will mean being able to recycle glass and cardboard from home instead of having to haul those items to a city dropoff location.
Before the end of 2013, the rest of the residents will start on the single-stream system.
"The whole plan is to make it easier for my residents so they can put more out" to recycle, said city recycling coordinator Sherri Kennedy.
If residents recycle more, they will throw away less trash. That means less money the city will have to spend on landfill fees and more money earned selling recyclable materials.
For residents, that translates to keeping sanitation rates from increasing, Kennedy said.
And it ushers in the next phase: In 2014, the city will reduce twice-a-week trash pick-up to once a week.
The same single-stream truck can be used for trash pickup at the beginning of the week, then washed out and labeled with a magnetic decal showing the city's "Recycling Guys" logo to make the recycling rounds. That should reduce fuel and equipment costs, Kennedy said.
Another goal is to increase the number of residents who recycle. About 32 percent of Safety Harbor residents set their recycling bins out for collection, Kennedy said.
With single-stream recycling, the goal is 50 percent participation. Eventually, the city would like to draw 70 percent or more.
In Oldsmar, the number of residents who recycle skyrocketed after the city switched to single-stream recycling. Ini- tially, about 35 percent of residents participated in the recycling program. The city now boasts a rate of about 75 percent.
Dunedin also moved toward single-stream recycling this year. Clearwater is testing the idea with a pilot program.
A small percentage of Safety Harbor residents won't transition to the single-stream recycling process at all, Kennedy said. This includes elderly communities, as residents might struggle with the larger receptacles, and neighborhoods that don't have space for larger bins or that are on dead-end streets where the single-stream truck can't maneuver.
And as for everyone else's old green bins? Once the new program is in place, they'll be recycled, of course.
Stephanie Wang can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or [email protected]