Universal curbside recycling

BY FRANK DROUZAS Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — The new universal curbside recycling program is underway in St. Pete.

Delivery of containers for recyclable materials has already begun to city residences and will continue throughout this month. Each container contains a plastic bag with a card showing the recycling zones with a calendar for the start date and collection days of the week.

“The first pick up is on June 29,” said Jeff Donnel, management analyst for the recycling program in St. Pete. Current Waste Pro, Inc. subscription service ended May 31.

Route Map Recycling in St. Peteresburg, featuredThe universal recycling program will replace the subscription-based program the city had implemented, which serviced only about 8,000 residences, Donnel said. For the new program the city will deliver over 80,000 containers, making this a far more expansive program. Recyclable materials include glass, aluminum and steel cans, plastics, printed matter, cardboard and beverage cartons. Recyclables must be rinsed or free of food particles.

All residents receiving the 95-gallon containers will be charged a monthly fee of $2.95, and it will appear on their existing utility bill. Billing will begin in August.

“Many people in the city have been looking for this for a long time and we’re happy to we’re finally able to implement it,” Donnel said.

Jan Tracy, program coordinator for Pinellas County Solid Waste, agreed that many city residents have been asking for just such a program for some time.

“We think it’s a terrific thing!” she said. “From a recycling standpoint, it’s wonderful that the residents of St. Petersburg are going to be able to recycle at their homes by rolling a cart to the curb. It’ll be easy for them, convenient.”

Tracy and Donnel give credit to Mayor Rick Kriseman for being instrumental in finally getting the program underway in St. Pete. On a “White Board Series” video on the official city website, Kriseman touts the program’s merits and explains how it will all work.

“When I was running for office I said that one of the things that was important was to see this city truly become the green city that we have the designation of,” Kriseman attests in the video. “And if we’re really going to be that green city, we need to do something more than a subscription based recycling program.”

It makes sense from a financial standpoint, Kriseman goes on to explain in the video, and it will lead to a cleaner, healthier St. Pete.

With the implementation of the universal curbside recycling program in Pinellas County’s most populated city, St. Pete officials hope the program will have far-reaching benefits that extend beyond the city limits.

“The state of Florida has a goal to recycle 75 percent of its waste by 2020,” Tracy explained. “This new program in St. Pete will be a huge step forward in helping Pinellas County reach that goal.”

Frequently asked questions about universal residential curbside recycling

Q. What is the City’s Universal Residential Curbside Recycling Program?

A. The Universal Residential Curbside Recycling Program is a single stream (all recyclables in one container) program for all single family and multi-unit locations with 1-4 units. From May through June, customers will have a 95 gallon blue recycling container delivered to their front yard. Recycling collections will occur on a designated day every other week.

1. Each recycling container contains a plastic bag with a card showing the recycling zones with a calendar for the start date and collection days of the week.

2. Customers should place their container curbside for collection on the day indicated on the calendar.

3. If you do not have the collection day calendar, simply locate the colored sticker on your container lid and match with the calendar provided in your container.

Residents are encouraged to move the container away from the curb and place it closer to their residence until their designated recycling collection day.

Q. How does it work?

A. Customers may recycle glass, aluminum and steel cans, steel jar lids, milk & juice cartons, drink boxes, plastics #1-7, newspapers, magazines, mail, shopping ads, windowed envelopes, mixed paper and cardboard in container provided.

Customers should ensure all recyclables are rinsed and free of food particles so containers remain clean and don’t cause odors or attract insects, rodents, etc. You are encouraged, but not required, to recycle.

The monthly fee for all customers is $2.95.

Q. How soon can I start recycling?

A. Current Waste Pro, Inc. subscription service will end May 31. The city will begin regular curbside recycling collections in late June with specific dates as shown on the calendar provided inside each recycling container.

Those customers wishing to recycle from the time the Waste Pro services conclude and the City collection begins may bring their recycled items to one of the city’s five recycling drop-off and brush sites or other St. Petersburg locations which accept selected recyclables. A list of drop-off/brush site locations may be found at www.stpete.org/brushsites and in the plastic bag found inside each recycling container.

Q. If I need repair or replacement of my recycling container, who do I call?

A. Call the Customer Service line at 727-893-7838.

Q. Who do I call for a missed recycling collection?

A. Call the Customer Service line at 727-893-7838.

Q. Why should I recycle when I am already paying for garbage?

A. The $2.95 monthly fee will pay for the net cost for collection of the recyclable content, taking into account the savings from less trash in normal garbage collection.

Recycling is good for the environment and it creates jobs.

Recycling saves energy. It takes less energy to process recyclable content than to process the raw materials.

Q. Why is the recycling program not collecting recyclables from the alleys?

• Alley ways are narrower than City streets.

• Most alleys are not wide enough to accommodate both the existing 300 gallon garbage container and the 95 gallon blue recycling container.

• Automatic side loader collection trucks may be obstructed by the branches and hit overhead power and telephone lines.

Q. Vehicles park on my street. How can you reach my recycling container?

A. Recycling trucks will be able to safely reach between vehicles to grasp recycling containers. On certain streets with many parked vehicles, an automated rear loader truck with two assistants will be used to wheel the container to a location where the truck can safely collect the recyclables before returning it to the original location.

Q. Where can I find information on whether an item is recyclable or garbage?

A. Refer to the informational card provided in the plastic bag in each blue container for a list of recyclable items. Soon, customers will be able to use a searchable database at www.stpete.org/recycle to determine if an item is recyclable or garbage.

Q. What do I do if my recycling container is too full?

A. Once the program gets underway in late June, customers are encouraged to monitor their amount of recycling. If the demand is in excess of 95 gallons with every other week collection, you may request an additional recycling container at no extra charge by calling 727-893-7838. Due to the limited quantity of recycling containers, customers are encouraged to avoid requesting additional containers for seasonal projects, i.e., spring cleaning, etc.

Alternatively, customers may use the city’s five recycling drop-off and brush sites in addition to other St. Petersburg locations which accept selected recyclables. A list of locations is available at www.stpete.org/brushsites and in the welcome kit found in each recycling container.

Q. If I refuse the container when it is delivered, will I still be charged the $2.95 per month?

A. Yes. The service cost for the program will be charged even if the container is not accepted at delivery. The City encourages all residential customers to accept the container before deciding not to participate.

Q. Why did the City start with a curbside recycling program aimed at only residential addresses?

A. Collecting the recyclable content at the curb is a single collection strategy solution for residential households and multi-family unit locations of 1-4 units. Multifamily complexes and businesses will be addressed after the residential curbside recycling program is fully implemented.

Q. Why are recycling containers being placed at inactive locations?

A. On average there are as many as 50 residential locations in an inactive state.

By having the container vendor deliver the containers, the City incurs no additional cost to deliver the container when the property becomes active.

Q. What options are available to businesses for recycling?

A. Recycling receptacles will continue to be available at each of the five city-operated Brush Site locations. A list of locations is available at www.stpete.org/brushsites. Drop-off locations around the City where recyclable materials can be deposited will also be maintained.

A list of locations is available at www.stpete.org/brushsites. Private, subscription-based companies such as Waste Pro, Inc. will continue to provide service to multi-family locations and the commercial business entities.

Q. Why can’t the money generated from the sale of the recyclable materials be used to off-set the cost to residents?

A. The cost of the recycling program is being off-set by the $2.95 that residents are paying monthly for the recycling collection service since the recyclable materials don’t generate enough revenue to cover all program costs.

Q. If I want to voluntarily go to solid waste service once a week, will I be able to do so at a lesser cost?

A. The City does have a standard program that allows review and approval of once-a-week solid waste services based upon these qualifying conditions.

• Single Family Residential/one or two person household

• Lot size 8,500 sq. feet or less • Water usage less than 5,000 gallons or less per month

Q. If I am unable to pull my garbage can to the curb, will I also be exempted from pulling the blue recycling container to the curb?

A. Yes. The Sanitation Department has a standard Tub Out Program where they will pull the container from the back of the location, dump it and return it to the back of the property.

If you currently have tub-out service, your recycling container will automatically be added to the list for those already receiving the service.

New requests will require approval. The program requires a medical certification in order to qualify for the service.

Q. What is ‘Backyard Service’ and does it apply to the recycling container?

A. Backyard Service is a fee-based service where the solid waste container will be removed from behind the property, dumped and returned to the back of the property. The recycling container will be serviced in the same way at no additional cost to those residents who pay for solid waste backyard service.

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