Pinellas considers countywide recycling program

09/09/08 Seán Kinane
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In a little over a year, Pinellas County residents will be able to participate in a curbside recycling program. During a work session today, the Board of County Commissioners agreed to move forward with putting curbside recycling in place in the unincorporated county and in cities that choose to opt-in to the program.

Bob Houser, Pinellas County’s director of Solid Waste, said the program would be paid for at least for the next 10 to 15 years by a surplus fund in the solid waste department. There would be no additional cost to county residents.

The only three cities within Pinellas County that don’t offer curbside recycling are St. Petersburg, Madeira Beach and Reddington Shores. All of the other municipalities would be able to either join the county program or continue their program and be reimbursed by the county for net expenses. Hauser said there are environmental benefits to curbside recycling.

Hauser said that a survey of unincorporated county residents found 80 percent want curbside recycling.

Michael Connors is the internal services administrator for the city of St. Petersburg. Connors spoke for more than 10 minutes during the public comment portion of the meeting trying to convince County Commissioners that curbside recycling is more damaging to the environment and costlier than alternatives, such as recycling yard waste.

Connors told the Commissioners that “nothing is off the table” regarding St. Petersburg’s possible participation in the county’s curbside recycling program. The commissioners said they would work with St. Petersburg to learn more about what could be done with yard waste, but agreed to move forward with the curbside recycling plan.

Commissioner Susan Latvala is enthusiastic about the program moving forward – quickly. “It really needs to be done sooner rather than later.”

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