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Bigger bins, better return: Tampa hopes to boost residential participation.

Plan to say goodbye to the city's blue recycling bins starting early next year.

In their place, Tampa officials plan to supply residents with larger, wheeled green recycling carts - though not all at once.

With nearly seven times the volume of the city's blue bins, the 95-gallon carts will hold more while being easy to roll to the curb.

"You're going to love it. It is so easy," said Jeanmarie Massa, the recycling manager for Miami-Dade County, which switched to the carts in 2008. Since then, recycling participation has grown and the county's recycling tonnage has doubled, nearly hitting 63,000 tons last year.

Tampa officials are looking for similar benefits here, said Tonja Brickhouse, Tampa's solid waste director.

The carts should be easier to handle for people who have had trouble carrying the 14-gallon blue bins. They have lids, and they should keep animals and rain out, and paper in, reducing litter on pickup days.

Tampa's carts also will be outfitted with radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags to reduce loss or theft and to help the city collect information about recycling participation throughout the city.

But the change won't take place all at once.

In late January, the green carts will go to the recycling route with the highest rate of participation in each of the four quadrants of the city. Other routes will be switched over a period of about 18 months. Customers' recycling schedules will not change.

The city has 79,000 residential and commercial recycling customers, more than 95 percent of them residential.

Currently, the citywide recycling rate is 33 percent, and the recycling route with Tampa's highest recycling rate is 55 percent.

But that should change, Brickhouse said.

"I think it's going to increase the recycling participation rate across the city," she said. "It is just easier for the customer."

Richard Danielson can be reached at or (813) 226-3403.

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Recycling meetings

City solid waste officials will hold a series of public meetings about their new recycling program starting next week. All meetings are scheduled from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on:

- Monday at the Kate Jackson Community Center, 821 S Rome Ave.

- Nov. 28 and Dec. 3 at the Seminole Heights Garden Center, 5800 N Central Ave.

- Dec. 6 at the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library, 3910 S Manhattan Ave.

- Jan. 8 at the city solid waste department offices, 4010 W Spruce St.

Call (813) 348-1111 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays or check