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  1. Opinion

Editorial: Big recycling trucks big problem for St. Petersburg

Beginning universal curbside recycling should not be so difficult, but the living is never easy in the Sunshine City. One of the last big cities in Florida to embrace proper recycling, St. Petersburg has stumbled before the first glass jar or newspaper opinion section is dumped in the big blue bins.
Beginning universal curbside recycling should not be so difficult, but the living is never easy in the Sunshine City. One of the last big cities in Florida to embrace proper recycling, St. Petersburg has stumbled before the first glass jar or newspaper opinion section is dumped in the big blue bins.
Published Jun. 12, 2015

We're gonna need a smaller truck. And just like the memorable line in Jaws, the observation comes a bit late for St. Petersburg.

Beginning universal curbside recycling should not be so difficult, but the living is never easy in the Sunshine City. One of the last big cities in Florida to embrace proper recycling, St. Petersburg has stumbled before the first glass jar or newspaper opinion section is dumped in the big blue bins.

The city should be more than "not inflexible," as public works administrator Mike Connors promised this week, about its recycling plans. It should improve communication with residents, and it should find a way to get recycling trucks down alleys even if it needs to buy a smaller truck or two.

St. Petersburg began distributing recycling bins in mid May and gave each district an initial pick-up date, but some residents have been waiting more than a month for the first pickup. Some fresh reminders would help.

The bigger issue is making alley pickup work. Nearly 40 percent of St. Pete residents have their trash picked up in their alleys. But the city insists that their recycling trucks — which are 12 feet, 9 inches tall, 1 foot taller than the current trucks—will not fit in alleys. It would have been wiser to listen to advice from Tampa, which uses the alleys for recycling, than from Arizona, which apparently suggested trucks the size of tanks would work just fine.

Universal curbside recycling is good public policy. St. Petersburg should be flexible and clear as it kicks off the program, and city officials should use next month's rollout to evaluate the kinks in the system and work with residents to find solutions.