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New recycling program starts Monday: Here's some tips to remember

Written by Mike Baird, Caller Times
Published: January 31, 2011

— Can you recycle wire hangers, disposable razors, and paper plates that have food on them?

Nope, yep and not without rinsing.

These are some of the questions city officials have been fielding in advance of today's launch of Corpus Christi Recycles, the city's new curbside recycling and garbage collection program. Once-a-week pickup for all city customers also begins this week.

For recycling, keep in mind that wire hangers will jam the new $4.35 million sorting machine, and can be returned to dry cleaners and laundromats. Plastic razors with metal blades can be tossed into the single stream Smart Cart provided by the city. And paper plates can be recycled if rinsed and no grease remains on them.

One convenient feature is the single-stream program — one cart for all recyclables.

It includes all numbered plastics, all paper, cardboard and metal cans and lids.

There are some requests:

-- Shredded paper should be individually bagged, and stacks of newspapers should be bundled to aid the automated sorting process, officials said.

-- Corrugated cardboard should be flattened, and any food residue should be rinsed from plastic containers, meat wrappers and cans.

Operators at the city's call center, 826-2489, are taking recycling questions through Aug. 1 for solid waste officials to review and present to City Council for any changes that may need to be implemented."We are going through a learning process," said Lawrence Mikolajczyk, director of the city's solid waste services. "Any changes based on residents' concerns will coincide with the adoption of the 20011-2012 budget year, which beings Aug. 1."

With the start of once-a-week pickup, the collection day has changed for about 75 percent of residents, Mikolajczyk said.It's important to review the materials left with your new blue Smart Cart recycling bin to confirm the weekday of your trash pickup and recycling. Customers can find a schedule with the newly created recycling areas on the city's website at Garbage will be collected the same day each week, and every other week recycling carts also will be emptied.

Because of weather delays, cart deliveries to some Padre Island residents have not been completed. This is the new Zone 10, with Friday collection. Carts are expected to be delivered by Wednesday, and these customers are asked to observe their new collection day this week.

Many apartment dwellers and senior center residents wonder why they haven't been included.

"How can I recycle?" asked Joyce Hester, who lives at Cimarron Senior Apartment Homes. "I hate to keep putting all that stuff in the trash."

Most residential complexes are not city customers; they are serviced by independent waste collectors. Those contractors have had recycling made available to them, city officials said, but it's up to each manager to negotiate with their collector for recycling.

The new program does cost each customer about $2 a month but there are money saving benefits. The city has engaged RecycleBank, a national company that rewards participants with points for discounts at area retailers.

RecycleBank points are awarded to households based on their neighborhood's participation. An area's route collections are weighed to determine the points deposited into individual accounts.

"What if none of my neighbors recycle and I'm doing all I can?" asked Ramiro Garza, a former city employee who lives in Zone 7 near Del Mar College. "Other cities reward people individually."

The present technology — a computer chip that identifies the bin's number — doesn't allow the city's new recycling trucks to weigh the amount collected at each household. It only counts the number of bins emptied.

"That doesn't mean we won't graduate to weighing individually in the future," Mikolajczyk said. Other cities offer their own reward incentives for recycling, he said, rather than using an independent company.

RecycleBank works with more than 300 communities and it's in everyone's best interest to participate in recycling, said Jeff Harse, spokesman for the company.

"Neighbors should encourage one another to recycle," Harse said, "they'll get points from RecycleBank and Mother Nature."

You can also view this article here.

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