DADE CITY — Pasco County wants to boost residential recycling by shedding 40 percent of the stuff that gets picked up at curbside.
Of the 8,000 tons of material recycled annually by county residents, 40 percent, or approximately 3,200 tons, is glass. But a depressed commodities market has meant the county is paying to dispose of it, and commercial recyclers also consider glass to be a contaminant, damaging the value of other recycled materials.
Four years ago, county staffers recommended that Pasco get out of the glass recycling business. On Tuesday, commissioners began the process of doing just that by starting an overhaul of the recycling program. The board introduced a proposed ordinance to expand curbside pick-up of recyclables to once a week, rather than the current schedule of twice per month.
A public hearing on the proposed ordinance is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. May 21 at the West Pasco Government Center. If adopted, haulers will have 90 days to comply.
But a big part of the change — besides more frequent service and projected higher costs to consumers — is that haulers will accept only aluminum, plastics, metals, newspaper and cardboard in curbside recycling containers. Removing glass from that list is expected to save the county about $100,000 annually. But it isn't universally favored.
''I did not know we were in it for a profit. I thought we were trying to protect the environment,'' recycling advocate Lewis Corvene said in a recent letter to the Tampa Bay Times.
Pasco residents produce 379,000 tons of trash annually, about a quarter of which — 95,000 tons — is material that could be recycled. Boosting that number is the aim of adding weekly recycling.
"I can't wait for once-a-week recycling,'' said Commissioner Kathryn Starkey. "I think that will be more convenient for everyone.''
Other proposed changes for the county's solid waste service, previewed for commissioners last month, include a $2.69 increase to the monthly fee the county's seven private haulers can charge. The current fee of $12.44 hasn't increased in 10 years. Separately, the weekly recycling service will add an expected $1.76 to residents' monthly trash bills. Additionally, staff has proposed a $7 increase in the annual $65-per-household solid waste assessment to finance the expected $190 million expansion of the county's trash-burning plant.
The incinerator is now running at capacity, and the county is paying $600,000 to haul excess garbage to a privately owned landfill in Sumter County.
Contact C.T. Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2.