Largo staff presented this draft of an educational flier to Largo commissioners in preparation of the February rollout of the residential mixed recycling program.
LARGO – Largo staff presented new promotional materials and branding for the city’s expanded recycling program Aug. 13, along with reporting that the yearlong implementation of the program is still on schedule.
The curbside, mixed recycling program for residents is scheduled to start Feb. 3.
“We are very excited with the program. We’re very excited about how it’s going so far,” Public Works Director Brian Usher told commissioners.
The new program would allow residents to collect 11 new types of materials in the same type of wheeled carts the city currently uses for trash collection. Three automated side-load vehicles – already purchased and in the process of being built – will collect the recyclables from residents’ driveways.
The city also has already purchased 18,000 new recycling carts for the program. In them, residents will be able to collect aluminum foil; steal and tin cans; clear, brown and green glass; milk and juice paper cartons and juice boxes as well as many more types of plastic than the city currently can accept.
Part of the city’s marketing materials includes labels for the carts themselves, explaining what types materials the city will accept. The new carts will be delivered with a bag of educational fliers and a refrigerator magnet, customized with the residents’ specific recycling pickup day of the week. The city’s communication and marketing division also is preparing to advertise the changes through city LED signs, a promotional video on Largo TV, a dedicated website, social media, newspaper advertisements, billboards and artwork on the recycle trucks themselves.
A new logo for the mixed recycling program features the updated slogan “Largo Recycles More.” The city would eventually transition back to the original “Largo Recycles” logo after an extended period using the updated, though similarly looking, logo, explained Kate O’Connell Oyer, communications and marketing supervisor.
Additionally, staff will try to engage its younger residents by asking them to come up with their own design for a promotional billboard. The winning design will be featured on a real billboard.
The new recycling carts will be blue, and the collection trucks will be orange, O’Connell Oyer said. Usher emphasized that the trucks must be unique enough to identify them as Largo collection trucks but also must be distinct from the city’s own garbage trucks.
“I can tell you from experience that one of the largest public relations difficulties is when people perceive that recyclables are going into a garbage truck,” Usher said, explaining that color is the quickest way to determine if a complaint concerns a Largo truck. “We can tell very quickly if it’s one of ours or not. A lot of people don’t bother looking at the details but they definitely notice the color.”
As part of the process, the public works department is still working with IT staff to assess the appropriate technology needed to utilize the Radio Frequency Identification microchip tags that will be installed on the recycling carts. The tags will help the city to track the carts and could allow for recycling incentive programs. The city wants to make sure any implemented software will be able to handle the city’s future plans, Usher said.
“It’s enough of an investment that we don’t want to do it more than once if we can avoid it,” he said.
One way the technology could be useful would be in addressing increases in “contamination” coming from a specific neighborhood through focused notices or advertisements, Usher said. Materials like plastic bags and six-pack plastic holders can cause mechanical problems for the company processing the recyclables.
“Usually, the vendors ... know that there’s going to be a certain amount of material in there that’s not going to be acceptable to them,” Usher said. “It’s only when we start exceeding that amount that they’ll notify us.”
Staff clarified that recycled material would not be rejected if the lid or the label were still attached.
The city will be requesting bids from recycling processing vendors in September. In total, the project is budgeted to cost $2 million in capital funds. Staff anticipates savings in garbage-tipping fees as well as operating costs due to efficiencies will offset the cost.
Usher said staff would likely update the commission once more in November, when all the details are close to being finalized.