ARLINGTON -- City Council members said Tuesday that they were pleased with the results of a two-month pilot project that tested the use of 65-gallon rolling recycling carts in seven neighborhoods.
They asked city staffers to prepare more information about expanding the program.
The test run was designed to help Republic Waste Services and city officials determine whether residential customers would be receptive to switching from 22-gallon open bins to larger wheeled recycling carts with lids.
Officials say the carts would increase participation in recycling, thus extending the life of the city's landfill.
The larger carts hold more recyclable material and can be picked up and dumped mechanically, saving on manpower costs and reducing the chance of injury
About 2,900 households, divided among the council's five member districts, participated in the pilot program. Nearly half -- 48 percent -- returned a survey form asking about their experience.
Keith Melton, director of public works and transportation, said he was pleased with the response rate and with the fact that 772 households included comments with their form.
"Usually, you might get 25 percent response," he said.
Among the neighborhoods in the pilot project, recycling participation increased from 70 percent in January to 88 percent in February and March. Average volume grew from 7.8 pounds to 9.3 pounds.
Eighty-four percent of respondents indicated that they were overall in favor of the carts, but only 52 percent somewhat or strongly agreed that a rate hike of up to $1 a month would be worth it.
"It'll be less than $1," Councilman Jimmy Bennett said after the meeting. "We'll negotiate that."
In October, water-utility bills increased 25 cents to help cover rising operating expenses for Republic, which collects Arlington's garbage and recycling.
But the city did not implement a proposed 84-cent monthly fee increase for recycling because the project was put on hold.
Households participating in the pilot project, which ran from Feb. 1 to March 31, did not pay additional fees, officials said.
The carts are part of Republic's proposed $10.8 million investment in an automated collection system that would include the construction of a compressed natural gas fueling station and an upgrade to new collection trucks that run on the cleaner-burning fuel.
Patrick M. Walker,