Commissioner Robert Murray’s heart broke when the City of Largo stopped collecting glass as part of its recycling program years ago.
He is an avid recycler, overfilling his bins.
So he, like other members of the Largo City Commission, were excited to hear plans that could expand the city’s recycling program within a year by replacing the residential curbside collection with an automated single-stream version — which includes glass pickup — during a workshop Tuesday.
“I would really like to see this rolled out as soon as possible citywide,” Murray said. “We owe it to ourselves and to future generations.”
The move is becoming more popular as six cities in Pinellas County, including Dunedin, Safety Harbor and a test sample in Clearwater, already use the expanded collection service. The county also recently launched its own single stream drop off service. The program typically induces more recycled materials and less trash in the waste stream, officials with the city's Solid Waste division said.
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Officials hope the program encourages more recycling. While the first Largo recycling program offered a 14- to 18-gallon bin to each of the 18,000 single-family residences in the city, not everyone participated. An increase in the amount of recyclables means more revenue, as the refuse is sold to a third party.
The amount of recyclables also would increase because more items are allowed for collection, including three types of glass and tin and steel cans. In all, the program would include collect 11 more types of recyclables.
“Maybe on your list you should have read what not to put in it,” Commissioner Curtis Holmes said, complimenting the department on the plan. “If it goes down a disposal or a dog likes it, don’t put it out there.”
Cost to roll the program out citywide would be about $2 million, said Greg Ginn, solid waste manager. That includes purchasing 18,000 rolling carts and two, $600,000 side-loading trucks that would collect the recyclables from the wheeled cart much like resident's trash is collected.
The trucks the city uses now cost about $200,000. They also require manual sorting and collection, which is more labor intensive and offers potential safety hazards.
The program would not mean more costs to residents, officials said. Setup costs would come from the Public Works budget. Cost savings could be seen by reducing staff who collect curbside recycling, increasing the amount of recyclables sold to a third party and a reduction in workers compensation claims.
The program could be expanded to multi-family and commercial collection as well, but that would take more planning after the program is in place, officials said. There are 238 business that are part of city’s recycling program that would be eligible.
The plan's roll out could take 10-12 months, officials said.
As far as what will happen with the old bins after they are replaced? They would be recycled.