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Pasco Eyeing Recycling Program Changes

A few proposed tweaks to the existing program are hoped to increase participation.

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.

Christy J January 30, 2013 at 08:13 PM
This county's recycling program needs a complete overhaul. I can tell you from my experience in the industry that the recycling program CREATES waste instead of reducing it. Also, what residents do NOT know is that the MAJORITY of their blue bag items are sent to the incinerator instead of being recycled!! The county's excuse for this is that recycling the items is too costly. Personally, I don't find that to be a good enough excuse.
Steven McCracken January 31, 2013 at 12:38 AM
I jsut move here to Pasco County from New Jersey, Here is a PROGRAM we had their. I made a Suggestion to the Pasco COunty Government but they refused to respond. In NJ you are actually given Perks by Local businesses for Recycling. The Company issues each home a Huge Reciptical specific for that home, it has a bar code. when it is picked up weakly it is weighed and you are given Points. You collect the Points and are able to use them for Discounted purchases, Locally and nation wide. Check it out here is their web site. https://www.recyclebank.com/homepage
m carlisle January 31, 2013 at 01:54 AM
Libraries and Home Depots accept household batteries. I recycle but take it to the center off Hays road. I do this because I would be the only one in the area with a pickup and it's not environmentally friendly to have the trash truck go out of it's way just to pick up my recycling. If more people where participating I would put it on the curb. I'm not a fan of the blue bags.Would like to have options to either purchase a container or use the blue bags. I would love it if they accept the higher number of plastics. Think many people just throw them all in the bags anyway, notice alot of older residents get confused about what is acceptable and what is not. It would be nice to have some sort of incentive to get more people to participate. Other states have rebates for turning in glass etc.
ssm January 31, 2013 at 02:15 AM
The Govt. Center on Little Rd. takes household batteries, also.
Kit S February 05, 2013 at 06:57 AM
I moved to Pasco from Hillsborough last summer and Pasco's program is a joke. None of our neighbors recycle here and I can't really blame them, you have to run around trying to find bags, then remember which week it is while they pile up in the off-weeks, sort out the plastics, drive your paper to a nearby school (when the gates aren't locked). I see bags of recyclables out with the regular trash as I drive out of the neighborhood. There are so many barriers here you have to already be committed to doing it! In Hillsborough, they drop of free big bins that get picked up twice a week, plastic, glass, Al, and paper.

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