Avon Park curbside recycling starts today
Pallavi Agarwal | Highlands TodayAVON PARK - Harry Pope has been stocking up his blue-and-yellow recycling cart for the big day, and he's glad it's finally arrived.
Published: November 14, 2012
Published: November 14, 2012
Starting at 6 a.m. today, two Republic Services' garbage trucks will fan out across the entire city and empty out the new carts, launching what is Highlands County's first curbside recycling program.
It was supposed to start January, but the bins were distributed earlier than expected, said City Manager Julian Deleon.
The contractor, Republic Services, has driven the entire city and is "ready for it," Deleon said.
From now on, every Wednesday in Avon Park will be recycling collection day.
What this means is that residents have to place their recycling carts by the curbside by 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Recyclables don't have to be separated. Plastics, glass, metals, cardboard, newsprint and paper products can all be commingled in the same bin, in what is called "single stream" recycling.
What this also means is that regular garbage will now be picked up only once a week, instead of twice. The city will no longer collect regular garbage on Mondays or Tuesdays.
The regular garbage will be collected on Thursday or Friday as part of the current route's schedule.
"This once-per-week measure is being taken to promote resource conservation, recycling and cost savings to the city," states a public notice.
Not everyone is happy with this move.
A city resident who didn't want to be identified grumbled about the change, saying he was going to dump all his trash together and didn't care if it would now be picked up only one day a week.
He wasn't going to recycle, he emphasized. City hall didn't ask him before launching the program, he felt.
How well city residents like him participate in the program will determine how much the city ends up saving, although Deleon was confident the program will turn out to be a win-win for everyone.
He acknowledged that residents not accustomed to recycling may find it challenging at first.
To help educate people, city staff was going to go to the schools to teach students on what can go in a recycling cart and what can not, and how recycling helps the environment.
The city was also setting up booths at Avon Park community events to reach the general population, he said.
In the end, once residents realize their regular garbage is being picked up only once a week, Deleon felt, it will "trigger" them to automatically start recycling.
"The reality is that most of the garbage is recyclable," he added.
Potential resistance from residents is not the only thing the city has prepared itself to face.
Any new program comes with possible hiccups until things are ironed out.
Two city workers will travel in the Republic trucks for "quality control," Deleon said, and complaints will be documented.
Those with missed pickups should call the city, which will take care of it, he added.
Republic is getting $1.80 for every account plus the money it makes disposing of the collecting recyclables. It has a four-year contract with the city, which renews every year.
The city, for its part, saves when it has to pay less in landfill tipping fees for disposing of the trash in the county landfill, Deleon explained.
In the $1.2 million city sanitation budget, tipping fees, at $300,000, constitute almost a fourth.
With once-a-week garbage pickup, the city's trash trucks will also do less work and have a longer life, Deleon said.
"The trucks cost $220,000 and have a five-year shelf life," he said. Each tire alone costs $300, he said.
One less pickup a week also means the city spends less on fuel and maintenance, which carries an annual cost of around $140,000, and it frees up the four sanitation department workers to do other things on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Deleon said.
"I see the savings in the long run," he said.
To contact the city about this issue, call its utility billing department at 863-452-4433 or public works, at 863-452-4427.
Some of the things that go into your recycling cart
Opened mail and greeting cards; paper egg cartons; plastic containers like bottles, tubs, jugs and jars; file folders; paperboard boxes; cans (do not crush or flatten); glass bottles and jars; newspapers and inserts (no bags); phone books; loose metal jar lids and steel bottle caps; corrugated cardboard and paper bags; paper milk/ juice cartons (no foil pouches; do not flatten); paperback books.
Do not put these:
Scrap metal; Tyvek envelopes; needles or syringes; frozen food, ice cream or frozen fruit containers; light bulbs, plates or vases; hazardous or bio-hazardous waste; Styrofoam or paper-to-go containers; tissues, paper towels and napkins.
Source: Republic Services, the above is not a complete list.
Republic will then haul them to its sorting and recovery facility in Bartow.