Residents Giving Thumbs Up to Recycling Pilot Project

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The first time Annette Hiner saw what she calls “that contraption” scooping up her 65-gallon wheeled recycling cart she wasn’t quite sure whether it was a really good thing “or just a really, really bad idea . . . with good intentions,”

 “Did I want to haul that big thing out every week?” she asked. “How could that truck get everything without dropping half of it? How bad would the block look with all these carts sitting out?”

Months into seeing the contraption pick up her recyclables Hiner is sold. Hauling out the wheeled cart is easy, the truck lifts and dumps the contents with relative ease and the neighborhood block  “doesn’t look as cluttered as I thought.”

Hiner didn’t participate in the recent survey of 2,846 households that took part in the Recycling Pilot Program in several neighborhoods beginning Feb. 1, but 48 percent, or 1369 households, did return the form, and it’s clear that many are like Hiner.

 “The people have spoken, so to speak,” said Director of Public Works and Transportation Keith Melton. “If you look at the overwhelmingly high percentages, it’s quite clear that the pilot program is a success and this is something residents want.”

More than eighty percent of respondents gave favorable views on questions such as the ease of maneuvering and rolling of the cart, appearance, and the big question: Would residents be receptive to switching from the 22-gallon open bins to the larger wheeled recycling carts with lids?

 “That summarizes it all,” Melton said of the preference question. Nearly 84 percent of respondents replied positively to the wheeled carts. “We’re confident about moving forward knowing the survey results.”

Melton said the carts are part of Republic’s multimillion-dollar investment in an automated collection system that also includes a compressed natural gas fueling station and new collection trucks.

City officials agreed to the pilot project for a variety of reasons. Cart usage would increase participation in recycling and thus extend the life of the city’s landfill. Larger carts hold more materials and having the carts picked up and dumped mechanically saves on manpower costs and increases safety for workers of Republic Waste Services. Employees no longer have to ride on the back of the vehicles, leap off and sling the bins’ contents into the truck.

 “It’s easy to handle, it holds more and depending on the size of your family you don’t have to put the cart out as often,” Melton said.

Another sign of success: recycling participation is up from 70 percent in January to 88 percent in February and March. Melton said the average volume of materials also increased, from 7.8 to 9.3 pounds.

As for neighborhood aesthetics, a more uniformed look helps.

 “Everyone has the same cart,” Melton said. “When you look down the street, theoretically it looks a little bit better. And when you get heavy rains I’ve seen the bins washed right down the street. These won’t wash down the street.”

View Recycle Cart Pilot Program survey results

 By Ken Perkins

22 Responses to Residents Giving Thumbs Up to Recycling Pilot Project

  1. When are other areas going to get these? I have 2 of the current recycling bins and they are cracked in multiple places, because the people picking up the recycling throw them all over the place when they empty them and have broken them. They have even blocked my driveway at times.

    • avatar Arlington Resident

      You can either call the Water Dept. or visit the city website and order new bin(s). They’ll be delivered to your house, usually within a week.

      The newer bins are taller than the original ones. I don’t know if old, damaged bins are recyclable or not. That’s a question you can ask the Water Dept.

    • The City Council is scheduled to discuss the city-wide implementation of the new recycling program at their June 26th meeting. Even if approved, it could be as late as Jan/Feb 2013 before everyone receives a cart.

      In the meantime, I encourage you to pick up some new bins. They are available (up to 2) free of charge at City Hall, 101 W. Abram Street or at the South Service Center, 1100 Sw Green Oaks Blvd.

      If the collection crew continues to throw and damage your bins, please let me know so we can address the issue with the crew.

      Thank you very much. Lorrie Anderle 817-459-6778

    • Great Idea. Can’t wait for the bins to arrive in my neighborhood.

      Thanks for all of you help in getting this program established.

  2. Were any of the test areas even done in wooded neighborhoods? I live in Woodland West where mature trees, even those set well back from the curb, partially or fully overhang our streets. What happens if the height of the lift & dump mechanism exceeds the height of those limbs? Are you going to require they be trimmed, and who would have to pay for that? You will be destroying the woodsy character of many neighborhoods if you require the trees be butchered (as they are for power lines) just so your new truck can pick up recyclables. And what makes you think that the new bins could not be picked up by fast flowing water and carried down the street during a heavy rainfall whose down-street runoff DOES flow a few feet into driveways and up over the curb, particularly near storm drains. Even the smaller bins create some blockage of the drains and consequential street flooding. What about residents without garages to store them in and no place to put out of sight along the side or in back of the house, or no way to get them from back to front without dragging them THROUGH the house? Are they wild critter-proof? The wheelbase width appears to be wider than the path from my elderly Dad’s back porch to the driveway, which is partially gravel. He simply would not be able to get one from back to front. It would be hasty and inappropriate to commit EVERY neighborhood and family who has real issues and concerns to the new system without addressing and resolving the real problems many of us will have.

    • Many of the houses in the pilot areas were in wooded neighborhoods and we did not receive any comments regarding the destruction of trees as a result of the pilot program.

      Fast flowing water is always a concern but it is less likely that the carts will float away.

      Storage issues have been addressed in previous posts.

      I am not sure if the proposed carts are wild critter-proof but I would be happy to invesitage the issue. Most of the complaints we receive about critters getting into the trash are due to domesticated cats and dogs and sometimes, birds.

      You are right that there is no one system that will meet the needs of all residents.

      Thank you. Lorrie Anderle, Recycling Coordinator

  3. avatar Arlington Resident

    Why so much emphasis on “everyone has the same cart”? We all have the same bins. Having gigantic wheeled carts is NOT aesthetically better.

    Where will people store these gigantic carts? We will all get to view them every day outside homes… just like in Fort Worth and Dallas. That should improve the aesthetics of our neighborhoods.

    Why the omission of the question “would you be willing to pay more?” That was a resounding NO by a majority of the minority that bothered to return their surveys.

    And that “investment by Republic” isn’t really Republic’s investment… it’s planned to be covered by Arlington homeowners. So it’s a property-owning TAXPAYER’S investment.

    Apartment renters/owners need to be forced into recycling their trash before any more of these ‘bright’ ideas are foisted onto, and funded by, homeowners. Recycling isn’t a ‘luxury’…. we are charged for the priviledge. And it costs MUCH more to recycle trash than to bury it in the landfill.

    Are all the residents of all the OTHER cities whose garbage is now being hauled to the Arlington landfill being REQUIRED TO RECYCLE to extend the life of the landfill? No.

    So again, Arlington HOMEOWNERS are being forced to fund another bureaucratic pet project of our municipal government.

    There will be no further recycling at my house if these carts are forced on us. Period.

    I thought our economy could little afford to have more unemployment. This program will cost men their jobs.

    • The easiest way I can think of to respond to your inquiries is to go through and answer one at a time.

      -Why so much emphasis on “everyone has the same cart”? We all have the same bins. Having gigantic wheeled carts is NOT aesthetically better.

      Aestetics is subjective but according to the survey, the appearance of the carts is acceptable.

      -Where will people store these gigantic carts? We will all get to view them every day outside homes… just like in Fort Worth and Dallas. That should improve the aesthetics of our neighborhoods.

      The carts will replace the bins so people will store them in the same place they stored their bin.

      -Why the omission of the question “would you be willing to pay more?” That was a resounding NO by a majority of the minority that bothered to return their surveys.

      The question was, “would you consider a monthly increase of up to $1.00 to have recycling carts?” The responses were as follows: 37% or 511 strongly agreed, 15% or 199 somewhat agreed, 11% or 156 somewhat disagreed, 31% or 428 strongly disagreed and 6% or 75 did not answer.

      -And that “investment by Republic” isn’t really Republic’s investment… it’s planned to be covered by Arlington homeowners. So it’s a property-owning TAXPAYER’S investment.

      It is both. More details regarding this subject will be presented at the June 26th city council work session.

      -Apartment renters/owners need to be forced into recycling their trash before any more of these ‘bright’ ideas are foisted onto, and funded by, homeowners. Recycling isn’t a ‘luxury’…. we are charged for the priviledge. And it costs MUCH more to recycle trash than to bury it in the landfill.

      Recycling is not a luxury or a priviledge. It is a service. A service that Arlington residents asked for nearly 20 years ago so that they could recycle more conveniently.

      -Are all the residents of all the OTHER cities whose garbage is now being hauled to the Arlington landfill being REQUIRED TO RECYCLE to extend the life of the landfill? No.

      To my knowledge, every city that hauls its garbage to the Arlington Landfill has curbside recycling.

      -So again, Arlington HOMEOWNERS are being forced to fund another bureaucratic pet project of our municipal government.

      Curbside recycling is considered by most a core service.

      Thank you. Lorrie Anderle, Recycling Coordinator

      • avatar Arlington Resident

        Ms. Anderle,

        Thank you for your reply. I know this has been a contentious issue, and I am amongst those in opposition. (as you could probably tell from my statement.)

        My household does NOT have the space in our garage for trash carts; we have a narrow garage, no shed, and do all our own yardwork. Thus, the garage is our only storage space. We use two small bins, and nearly every week they are both full. The bins are stored on a shelf unit in the garage. It is necessary to back a vehicle out of our garage to simply remove the lawn mower when needed. It isn’t worth the logistic hassle to us to continue recycling if a large wheeled cart is required.

        I personally know of many other households that will no longer be able to participate in recycling if carts are employed. Either these people live in homes with steep driveways, they don’t have room to store the carts, or getting them to the curb will be logistically challenging. (narrow gates or doorways, etc.) We also have neighbors who REFUSE to recycle altogether, don’t know why. These people probably won’t suddenly begin recycling simply because they have a cart although bins are currently available (and delivered to your house!) free of charge.

        We also do not look forward to seeing thousands of these trash carts parked in front of residences in every neighborhood in this city. Arlington has more than its share of challenged/ugly/rundown neighborhoods. People that aren’t fastiduous in rinsing out their recyclables will contribute to more insect/pest problems. We’ve been assured (during Council meetings) that Code Enforcement will NOT be issuing citations for visible carts… so expect to see these things everywhere, like it or not. Residents struggle now to keep our neighborhoods attractive places in which to live.

        If the life of the landfill is really so important, than the solution that should be pursued is to implement recycling at the HUNDREDS of apartment complexes (containing THOUSANDS of rental unit) in this city. Homeowners are tired of being expected to shoulder every burden and expense. Many of us generate far less trash than apartment residents, yet we are the first group that is called upon to support measures like these.

        It really boils down to homeowners being jaded to the point of exhaustion and fiscal insolvency by the ever-increasing taxes, fees, permits, etc. constantly created by government. A dollar here, a dollar there. It adds up. Government at all levels refuses to acknowledge that every dollar sucked up by bureaucracy is another dollar that is removed from the economy. Someone’s grocery budget. Utility budget. Rent or house payment. And on and on.

        But then we read in the newspaper, or hear on the news, some sort of new, wonderful way our municipal government has thought up to spend our money. Or we’re told we’ll be heavily fined if we use a resource such as the water for which WE are charged in a manner that government deems irresponsible. (Government doesn’t own the water, but the infrastructure to carry/process/deliver it.)

        We’re tired of being told what to do and constantly taxed for the priviledge.

        I realize the city does provide many important core services, and we don’t mind paying for those. It’s the unneccessary ones we do not wish to fund. We’re grateful for the water that flows from the tap when we turn the handle and are appreciative of the employees that work hard to make that happen. (as well as the Lord’s provisions of rain and rivers!)

        We appreciate regular trash collection and the hard work of the people who make that happen. The same with the fire department, police department, street workers, etc. We appreciate essential services, but are tired of the bureacracy and frequent unessentials we are forced to finance.

        Thank you for your time and patience in answering the posts to this site. Your consideration and professional demeanor are appreciated!

  4. Where is this picture? (Pine trees and no mail boxes) It’s not any part of Arlington I’ve seen! Looks and sounds like smoke and mirrors. I couldn’t fill one of those carts up in a month and they want to charge more for pick-up! Who is getting a kick back on this. Just another example of the city of Arlington out of touch with it’s citizens.

    • You’re right, this is a generic photo Republic Services provided to us for promotional purposes.

      As mention below, Republic Services has some general cart placement guidelines that we posted on our website at http://www.arlingtontx.gov/environment. Unusual cart placement issues might have to be addressed individually. As with the pilot program, supervisors will work with residents to resolve these issues.

      I have heard other residents say the same thing about not being able to fill the cart every week. That is easily resolved; if your cart is not full, no need to put it out.

      There a lots of government services where the perception is that someone is getting a kick back. If this program is implemented city-wide, and you have questions or concerns that you feel warrant justification, please go to the link below and submit an open records request.

      http://mygovhelp.org/ARLINGTONTX

      Thank you. Lorrie Anderle, Recycling Coordinator

      • Thanks for the heads-up. I feel much better knowing I can put the cart out for pick-up once a month. I bet I still pay the same price once a week or once a month. Who gets that extra cost savings?

        • Hi Mr. Pearce. You are right. Unlike water and electricity, the fee for curbside garbage and recycling services is a flat rate. Only cities that have what is commonly referred to as “pay as you throw” have variable rates.

  5. Yeah! I’ve seen these at friends and family’s houses in other cities, and have been hoping we would get them too!

  6. How is that going to work in all the neighborhoods where there are cars parked all along the curbs and where trees and other vegetation are growing in the right of ways and next to the curbs? Just wondering.

  7. so when will folks who live in multi-family communites be included in recycling? I moved from a house where I had curbside recycling to a townhouse and now take my non-paper recyclables to Whole Foods, while my neighbors less than a block away have the luxury of curbside recycling.

    • Hello. Ms. Cobb. On site multi-family recycling can be challenging. Arlington does not require apartment complexes to recycle and because it isn’t free, most apartment management companies do not voluntarily do it. Even though they could save money on garbage service, it’s always a tough sell to get them to spend money to save money. It’s not always all about the money. Sometimes, they don’t have enough space in their dumpster enclosure. Illegal dumping and contamination can also be problematic.

      Apartment residents may drop off recycling at any of Arlington’s public libraries. More information is available at http://www.arlingtontx.gov/environment.

      I’d be happy to discuss on the phone if you’d like more detail. My number is 817-459-6778. Thank you.

  8. So when will we all get these? I think the wheeled carts would be better too for the elderly. I know many that don’t recycle because they can not carry the opened bens to the curve. I like this idea and I was not in the test run. Thanks

    • The City Council is scheduled to discuss the city-wide implementation again at the June 26th city council meeting. Please look for more information then.