Going green is getting bigger in Arlington.
“In the early '90s, we started with a paper program. We expanded that into plastics and aluminums and metals, and the industry has progressed to the point where a lot more material is recyclable than was before,” said Arlington Deputy City Manager Bob Byrd.
As participation increases, the city is pushing an effort that officials said will give the recycling program a makeover.
The proposed plan is to curb the 22 gallon recycling bins that residents currently use and replace them with 65 gallon wheeled-carts.
The company that is contracted to provide recycling services for Arlington residents, Republic Services, said they’re in support of the proposal for many reasons.
One reason is convenience.
“The use of a cart, of a wheeled-cart, is much easier because the wheel is an amazing invention, as everyone knows,” said area President for Republic Services Nicholas Stefkovich.
Another reason is capacity.
“We've found that cities that convert to recycling with carts increase their recycling rates by 50 percent to 80 percent," said Stefkovich.
The idea is that if residents have bigger recycling bins to fill, they’re more likely to fill them, which mean more recycling.
Byrd says that nearly 50 percent of Arlington residents use the city’s recycling services at some point each month. Under the new proposal, their recycling rates will increase 84 cents a month per household.
The Deputy City Manager contests that, when comparing Arlington’s residential recycling rate to that of other cities in the Metroplex the $12.23 per month rate isn’t bad.
Grapevine, Frisco and Plano offer more competitive rates than Arlington, ranging from $11 to $12.18 per month. Dallas, Fort Worth, Irving, Richardson, Carrollton, Garland, Mesquite, Allen, Grand Prairie and Denton all provide more expensive recycling services.
Byrd is also quick to point out that, out of all those cities, Arlington is one of only six that offers sanitation pick-up twice a week instead of once.
But one thing they can’t put a price on is safety
“From a worker standpoint, automated collection with a cart is much safer,” said Stefkovich. “The sanitation worker is the seventh most dangerous job, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. That's a top 10 list we certainly don't want to make.”
Stefkovich said the new wheeled-carts will create a safer work environment for sanitation crews. Instead of workers handling curbside items manually, the new carts will be lifted by the sanitation truck’s automated arms.
That means less workers on the routes, as the trucks will do most of the heavy lifting. Stefkovich said that won’t necessarily mean those workers will be out of a job, as households are expected to recycle more, increasing the need for more routes.
In terms of manpower, individual sanitation crews might be leaner, but officials said there will be more crews dispatched.
Before the proposal becomes a reality, a town hall meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 22 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.