Since the city switched to an automated system last summer, Arlington residents have ramped up their recycling efforts by about 13 percent and seem to be happier with the program, officials say.
Formerly, residents who wished to recycle had to place open bins at the curb that workers had to physically lift and empty into the back of a diesel trash truck. Because the bins had no lids, trash would blow out on the street in windy weather.
But last year, city paid Republic Services $4.3 million to deliver new 65-gallon wheeled carts to every residential customer. The customers place the lidded cars by the curb once a week, and trucks powered by compressed natural gas are equipped to pick up the carts and dump the contents rather than workers having to perform the task.
To pay for the program, customers are charged an additional 45 cents through monthly garbage fees that are included in their water bills.
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Environmental Services Administrator Bob Weber said the natural gas trucks have fewer harmful emissions than diesel trucks. He also said the fuel is cheaper than diesel.
Since its inception, the program has generated 22,863 tons of recycled materials, a 13 percent increase. The increase also is projected to save about 40,000 cubic yards of landfill space.
At first some residents balked at the new program, saying that the carts were too big and they had no place to store them between collection days, he said.
“I think everyone likes it now,” Weber said. “We’re starting to get requests for second carts. The initial complaints have tapered off, and we don’t hear many anymore.”