PORTAGE | Officials are expecting the city's recycling collection to triple within the first month of putting a new collection system in place.
Only 6 percent of the city's residential trash currently is diverted to recycling.
Assistant Street/Sanitation Department Superintendent Randy Reeder said he anticipates that number to jump to 20 percent a month after the official Feb. 4 launch of the new trash and recycling collection system.
Reeder said the city's recycling numbers are so low because of the 18-gallon bins distributed to residents.
"It is so low because it is so burdensome for residents. It's so burdensome, people don't want to participate. We won't have those red bins anymore, and we believe that will drastically increase our recycling," Reeder said.
City Council President Sue Lynch said last week that the city has set a goal of eventually sending 65 percent of its residential trash to recycling instead of landfills.
Of the department's approximate 12,200 stops, only 25 percent participate in recycling, Reeder said.
The more residents recycle, the more money the city saves, he said.
"Republic Services will take recyclables for free. The more we recycle, the more we save," he said, adding it costs $46.91 for each ton of trash taken to the landfill.
Throughout January, each residence will receive two 96-gallon totes. One is earmarked for trash and the second for recycling. Once the totes are received, residents can begin using them, he said, even though Feb. 4 was chosen as the official kickoff date.
Other changes within the recycling program also will help increase the amount of materials recycled, Reeder said.
The city currently collects only plastics with a "1" or "2" inside the triangle. Once the system switches, residents will be able to recycle all plastics, no matter the number.
Another improvement, he said, is that recycling will be picked up every other week, regardless of how many weeks there are in the month. Residents often become discouraged if there is a fifth week during the month and instead of having their recycling overflow the small bins, they throw recyclables in the trash.
Reeder said the key to increasing recycling is not only providing the new totes, but educating residents.
An initial mailer will be sent out this month with information about the switch. A second mailer will be sent to residents in January.
When the totes are delivered, there will be a final packet provided with all the information needed, including a calendar of pickup days.