St. Pete to add optional curbside recycling for a price

09/02/10 Kate Bradshaw
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Being green hasn’t been easy for those living in St. Petersburg, where most residents have to sort, then lug their recyclables to a recycling center. Today, that changed. The city will soon offer curbside recycling – for a fee.

It was a unanimous decision, which St. Pete City Council member Steve Kornell summed up well: it's long overdue.

The City Council has entered into a 2-year agreement with the Florida division of Waste Services Incorporated, the third largest solid waste management company in the US. Starting in the next several weeks, anyone living in the Burg can have weekly curbside recycling pickup at a cost of $2.75 a month, or 33 bucks a year, for which they’ll be billed annually. St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster said the service is not mandatory, but those who do opt in won’t be paying out the ear.

Customers would get at least one 18-gallon collection bin for their recyclables, which Waste Services of Florida District Manager Bill Krimmel said they wouldn’t have to sort.

Krimmel said the company won’t accept Styrofoam or ceramics, but will take most plastic.

Waste Services spokesperson Ian Boyle said the company sells much of what it collects.

St. Pete residents will start seeing ads for the service in their utility bills. The company’s agreement with the city isn’t exclusive, and another recycling service, Waste Pro, is also available in the area. Waste Pro is a smaller company that doesn’t have an agreement with the city. Council member Wengay Newton said it’s about time recycling was more widespread in St. Pete, but wondered how many people would actually buy into the program.

Some might see the agreement between St. Pete and Waste Services as a key step for a city that already has a green designation, but another item on the agenda at city hall today has environmentalists fuming. It’s the adoption of broader land designations that would allegedly require fewer comprehensive plan changes to go to referendum if Amendment Four passes in November. The council opted to table a public hearing on the item until its September 16 meeting after the state Department of Community Affairs said the city was overstepping its authority. Critics like Cathy Wilson say the new land use map disenfranchises voters.

The city also postponed a vote on a resolution to bring high speed rail to St. Petersburg.

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