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Recycling program reaches new high
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Belleair resident Roma Allen, center, receives the first new recycle can from Solid Waste Supervisor Wilfred Holmes, left, and Finance Director J.P. Murphy.
BELLEAIR – The new “single stream” recycling system has begun in Belleair and one of its strongest proponents said it is going to increase recycling in the town considerably.

Town resident Roma Allen said she is convinced that the new system will encourage everyone to get involved.

“My hope is that everyone in Belleair becomes aware of how important recycling is,” she said. “I hope everyone puts everything that is recyclable into the bins; I hope the program becomes very popular in Belleair.”

The idea of single stream recycling is that everything goes into one big container. No longer does the homeowner have to sort things out and use separate containers. The town purchased 15 hundred 65 gallon cans which are 4 times as large as the blue boxes homeowners have now. Belleair’s Finance Director J.P. Murphy says the new system will save a lot of money.

“We have to pay nearly $34 a ton to bring our garbage to the dump,” he said. “We’re hoping more people will recycle and keep that stuff out of the trash. We’re estimating that we’ll save about 30 percent of what we pay now and that means we’ll save $30,000 every year.”

Like Allen, Murphy hopes the new system will increase recycling use in Belleair.

“We’re hoping to see at least 70 percent participation at the outset,” he said. “I think there will be some initial push-back if people feel the cans are too big, but I think generally we’ve gotten a warm reception and 70 percent is doable. We hope we’re low with that estimate.”

The current bins, the blue boxes, are getting 55 percent participation and Murphy said residents can choose to keep those for their personal use or recycle them by putting them into the new bins.

While most residents will have the 65-gallon size, there are small ones, 48-gallon size, for smaller homes and larger ones, 96 gallons, for multi-family homes or for commercial use. The bins also have a chip in the handle which allows the city to identify how many people are actually recycling and how often. Murphy said that way the town can market the benefits of recycling to those people who aren’t participating.

The cans are the property of the town so if one gets broken or a part goes missing the town will either repair it or replace it. There is also a 10-year warranty on the cans, which come complete with attached lids and wheels.

The new system also will save money because with the larger containers the pickup will happen only once a week throughout the town. The pickup is more efficient because of the new cans, which can be automatically dumped into the truck. For the moment the city of Clearwater is doing the recycling pickup, but Murphy said once they are able to see how many residents are taking advantage of the new system they may decide to do the collection themselves and save more money that way.

As concerned as she is about saving money, Roma Allen is just as concerned about saving the environment and she says recycling is one way everybody can participate in that.

“One person at a time can make a difference, the more people the better it is,” she said. “Most of my favorite pleasures are all done outside and I want to take care of the environment.”

From the time she first heard about the new recycling system some weeks ago, Allen, by her own admission, has been bugging Murphy and others at the Town Hall to get on with it. Week after week she wondered where the new recycle cans were and why weren’t they already in place.

Finally on Jan. 16, Murphy and Solid Waste Supervisor Wilfred Holmes knocked on her door and presented her with the very first 65-gallon recycling can, a tribute to her tenacity. She was delighted.

“I was shocked; I was really thrilled to death,” she said. “I’ve been aware of this for months and nothing was happening. I called City Hall several times over it. It was thoughtful of J.P. to think of me, I was pleased and ecstatic; it was thoughtful.”

The first scheduled pickup using the new system will on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
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