Ask most West Pasco residents when their trash hauler picks up recyclables and it’s likely they’ll get a blank look on their faces.
That’s a problem Pasco County is hoping to tackle in the near future. The county is eyeing changes to its blue bag recycling program that would make it easier for residents to get their plastic, glass and aluminum recyclables out to the curb.
A proposal is under consideration that would enable residents to forego buying those costly blue bags in favor of designating their own cans for recyclable items.
The move, officials say, could help improve participation in the voluntary recycling program.
Recycling is Low Right Now
Participation in the county’s voluntary recycling program is less than ideal, officials say.
Jennifer Seney, the county’s recycling coordinator, says it’s tricky to track the numbers though.
“Of all the single family, residential trash produced in this county only 4% is recycled. However, another number indicates that up to 23-24% of those units serviced by our haulers participate in the curbside program. That might seem like a contradiction, but what it says is that those people who are recycling are not recycling very much.”
Obstacles to Recycling
Right now the county’s contracted trash haulers pick up recyclable items once every two weeks. Schedules vary based on the hauler, which can make it confusing for residents to remember their days. Regular garbage is collected twice weekly.
The county’s trash haulers currently pick up recyclable items that are placed at the curb in blue bags. This practice alone is a barrier to participation, Seney said.
“Blue bags have to be purchased,” Seney said. “People don’t like that.”
The changes championed by Commissioner Henry Wilson would enable residents to use any container of their choosing for recycling. All they would need to do is put a special sticker on the container, according to The Suncoast News. Residents, of course, could continue to use blue bags if they wanted to.
The county’s haulers may also soon accept a wider variety of recyclables. Right now they only take No. 1 and No. 2 plastic, bimetal food cans, green, brown and clear glass bottles and aluminum. The proposed changes would expand the types of plastic accepted to include Nos. 1 through 5 and 7, The Suncoast News reported.
Convenience is Key
By expanding the type of recyclables allowed and the method for pickup, Seney hopes participation will rise.
“It’s been proven over and over that convenience is the key,” she said. “If it isn’t convenient, people won’t recycle.”
It remains unclear how soon the proposed changes might be enacted. Seney said the county is still talking with its trash haulers and working to nail down costs.
What do you think about the county’s blue bag program? Do you participate? Would you participate if you didn’t have to buy blue trash bags to recycle? Share your thoughts in the comments section.