Almost 3,000 households in the City of Arlington were sent letters on Jan. 9, notifying them of their participation in a program to test the viability of using 65-gallon wheeled carts for recycling collection.
The Arlington City Council and Republic Services, the City’s recycling vendor, selected seven neighborhoods throughout the City to test the new method.
An analysis will be provided at a later date comparing current participation using the 22-gallon bins with the 65-gallon test carts, which will be delivered to participating homes Jan. 23-27.
The pilot program will begin Feb. 1 and conclude March 31.
Increased efficiency, participation, and safety are among the criteria the City will use to gauge the feasibility of joining cities across the country that employ the wheeled carts.
Both Dallas and Fort Worth have used wheeled collection for several years. Instead of a truck consisting of a crew of workers hopping on and off to collect the bins, wheeled collection entails one driver who operates an automated or robotic arm which picks up the cart and dumps the contents into the bed.
“This is the next natural step for Arlington,” said Lorrie Anderle, the City of Arlington’s recycling coordinator, who noted that the covered carts would also better help decrease litter than the open-topped bins. “Most cities across the country are going to an automated system.”
“There are traffic and safety issues as well,” said Anderle. “Collection trucks routinely start and stop on their routes, and have employees who are riding and jumping off and on the trucks. There have been incidents where drivers are distracted and don’t see the garbage truck, and they run into the back of it.”
Anderle emphasized that nothing, other than the collection apparatus, will change for participating residents.
Republic will pick up recycling on the same scheduled days. The recycling pilot program will not affect garbage collection in any way.
“The only thing that will be different is, instead of using a recycling bin, they’ll use a cart with wheels and a lid,” Anderle said.
Those participating in the pilot program will also receive a brochure that shows proper cart placement, Anderle said. Residents should make sure the cart doesn’t block the mailbox and make certain to clear any obstruction to collection, such as parked cars.
At the conclusion, the City of Arlington will survey residents and compile statistics of effectiveness. Those conclusions will be presented to the Mayor and City Council for discussion.
A public hearing would be required to implement a permanent, city-wide program for wheeled-cart recycling because there would be an increase in cost to citizens, Anderle said, noting the increased cost would come from providing the new carts to each of the almost 90,000 single-family households.
The Mayor and City Council is the only body that has the authority to increase rates.
“We’re hoping that people who currently don’t recycle, will start recycling,” said Anderle. “And that those who currently do recycle, will recycle even more with the increased capacity of the 65-gallon containers.”