Pasco is testing a new recycling program

Pasco County commissioners are eager to roll out a new countywide recycling program.

But, first they need to wait for the results of a seven-month pilot study to test the use of carts and pickup schedules.

“My vision is to expand this as quickly as possible to the rest of the county,” said Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Wells Jr. “It’s exciting that we’re doing this.”

Two haulers — Waste-Aid Systems Inc., and Waste Connections (formerly Progressive Waste Solutions) — reached agreement with Pasco to target households in two areas of the county.

The haulers will provide containers, and schedule pickup days.

Pasco County commissioners approved the pilot study on March 14 at their meeting in Dade City. The county’s cost is about $118,000.

Participants will receive letters in April if they are in the pilot study. And, 1,500 carts will be delivered by May 1.

Residents currently provide their own containers for recycling, which are identified with stickers supplied by one of the haulers. (Mary Rathman)

Initially, the county will collect baseline data from the county’s current schedule of twice-a-month pickup for recyclables. Residents provide their own containers, which are identified with stickers supplied by one of six haulers operating in Pasco.

The study then would determine if recycling would increase if residents receive twice-a-week garbage and once-a-week recycling collection. The pilot program will end in October, and county commissioners will receive a report in November.

The study will collect data on the tonnage, and the rate of participation from residents.

Pilot study participants also will receive educational materials, and observations will be made by the haulers to see if contaminants, or non-recyclable materials, are placed in the carts.

Haulers also will handle repairs and replacement of carts.

“Haulers will find out what numbers they’ll be dealing with,” said Flip Mellinger, the county’s assistant county administrator for public infrastructure. “It’s a learning opportunity for us.”

County commissioners had discussions on increasing the frequency of recycling services at four workshops held between May 2015 and April 2017.

A citizen survey conducted in 2017 got 7,500 responses, with 84 percent in support of once-a-week recycling service. And, 58 percent said they would like a recycling cart to be provided.

County officials at the time said about 27 percent of residents recycled.

Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said residents moving to Pasco County often come from cities and counties that already recycle.

“They are shocked when they see our lack of recycling here,” she said.

County officials anticipate presenting an update on the study after three months. County commissioners will be looking for opportunities to expand recycling quickly.

“There’s no doubt it’s going to be successful,” said Wells, “I’m not trying to be funny, but it can’t be any worse.”

Published March 21, 2018

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