St. Pete group wants city to offer free curbside recycling

03/25/13 Janelle Irwin
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St. Petersburg residents have to pay $45 a year if they want their recyclables picked up curbside. The League of Women Voters of St. Petersburg wants to change that. Karen Coale, the chapter’s president, will kick off an effort called the People’s Trash Monday night at Studio@620 in downtown.

"It is a new campaign for this year that's kicking off tonight. The League of Women Voter's is probably most known for our voter registration and voter education but we also look at issues; national, state, and local. This is a local issue because we're the only major city in the state of Florida that does not have universal curbside recycling for the residents. So we wanted to take this on as an issue and to work with the city to make that change."

You say St. Pete doesn't have universal curbside recycling, tell us a little about what the issue is with that? Why does that need to change? What types of hurdles does that create for individuals who maybe would like to recycle but aren't able to?

"I think it helps them, actually, because today we have either delivery to one of twenty-one centers to get rid of our recyclable trash or a subscription service. Only 7.5 percent of the households in St. Petersburg are involved in the subscription service. A lot don't know about it. If universal curbside recycling was made universal than it would be available to all of the residents and it would be simply putting out either one bin or two with the recyclables in it. Also we had a study done to analyze recycling here in St. Petersburg and look at the potential for it here. What happens is when people do recycle in those cities and towns that have gone to universal curbside recycling the amount that people put out raises significantly so that's less that's going to be burned and that kind of thing and then you also can sell that recyclable materials, the tonnage of that. It's usually anywhere from $40 to $70 per recyclable ton that a city or township or municipality can receive in compensation."

You also mentioned a subscription service that the city offers and less than 10 percent of residents are taking advantage of that. Is there a cost associated with that subscription service?

"That could be it, we don't know for sure. We've also found out that a lot of people, from the study that was done, don't even know about it being available but yes it could potentially contribute to that."

What's the end goal in this? Where do you anticipate this going?

"Our goal is that the city, we work with local government here both the city council and the mayor and staff is asked to look into not if we can but how to do it work out the details of implementation."

Do you expect to get a lot of support among city council and city staff in this effort?

"Well we're going to have to find that out. We will be meeting with, not with staff but with city council and setting up meetings for next week to go over what our analysis has shown us and to see what they're take is. I think it's going to be a building of that relationship and working together and to see where we go."

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