County residents urged not to use single-stream recycling carts until week of Jan. 6, 2020

Many residents have remained unaware of starting date, county staff says

A still from a county video shows a Waste Management truck picking up one of the new recycling carts. Image courtesy Sarasota County

With deliveries of Sarasota County’s new single-stream recycling bins continuing until the latter part of December, county staff has emphasized that the containers are not to be used until the week of Jan. 6, 2020.

On Nov. 1, the county’s Twitter feed marked the start of delivery of the new carts, and it pointed residents to the county’s recycling webpage. That webpage says in bold type, “Keep using your red and blue bins until Jan. 3.”

Workers attached a packet of information to each 65-gallon cart — including a notice of the start-of-use date — via zip-ties, it had issued news releases about the timing of the switch, and it had posted notices on social media.

Many residents, however, have not received that message, as evidenced by the numbers of the carts standing at curbside on neighborhood collection days, county staff told The Sarasota News Leader late last week.

This is an announcement on Twitter about the new carts, dated Nov. 15. Image courtesy Sarasota County via Twitter

A Nov. 15 Sarasota County Government Twitter announcement said, “Whoa, horsey! Single-stream recycling carts are being delivered through Dec. 20, but collection hasn’t started yet. Keep using those red and blue bins until Jan. 6. Learn more about the program timelines at #srqcounty#SlowYourRoll

County Communications Department staff has been working on a variety of options to keep emphasizing the Jan. 6, 2020 start date. For example, last week, staff created a video featuring Wendi Crisp, outreach coordinator for the county’s Solid Waste Division.

“We’re excited to see that residents are ready to use their new carts,” Crisp says in the video. “However, they need to remember notto use these carts until the week of Jan. 6.”

Until then, she stresses, residents should continue to put their red and blue bins at curbside, separating recyclable materials as they have done for many years.

Before she concludes her comments, Crisp makes her point a second time about continuing to use the red and blue bins.

Wendi Crisp, outreach coordinator for the Solid Waste Division, explains use of the new carts in a county video. Image courtesy Sarasota County

She also encourages people to read the packet of information attached to their cart, and she suggests they consult the label on the lid to be sure about what can and cannot be recycled.

The county recycling webpage also includes a number of details under the heading, “What RESIDENTS need to know”:

• “In January 2020, all residents in unincorporated Sarasota County will transition from a manual dual-stream, bin-based collection system to an automated, single-stream, cart-based system.
• “The standard single-family home will receive a 65-gallon capacity cart on wheels. The cart measures 40.5′ (h) x 26.7′ (w) x 28.11′ (d).
• “Multifamily or common-area residences will have access to single-stream recycling carts.
• “Trucks will use a robotic arm to lift and empty the recycling carts.
• “Single-stream recycling collection will begin the week of Jan. 6, 2020. Recycling materials will not be collected in red and blue recycling bins after Jan. 3, 2020 [emphasis on the webpage].
• “Until single-stream recycling begins, store carts behind or beside your home, inside your garage, etc. Do not store them on the sidewalk in front of your home. Follow any storage rules that might be required by your homeowner’s association.
• “When recycling collections starts, keep the cart at least three feet away from other objects such as mailboxes, utility poles and cars so the automated arm on the recycling truck can easily access the cart for service. Position the cart so that the opening of the lid is facing the street.”

During the County Commission’s June budget workshops, Mike Mylett, now the director of the Public Utilities Department, explained the plan to switch to single-stream recycling, instead of making residents continue to separate paper goods from other materials.

After the City of Sarasota made the switch April 1 to single-stream recycling, Commissioner Christian Ziegler pointed out, city staff observed a big increase in the amount of recyclable materials residents were putting out for pickup.

Ziegler asked Mylett whether county staff expected a similar response.

“We have, Commissioner,” Mylett replied.

(Approximately 15,000 carts were delivered to the city’s residential customers during March, a city news release noted.)

The original city projection was a 25% increase, Mylett told Ziegler. When county staff consulted later with City of Sarasota staff, he noted, county staff found, “The city saw almost a 60% increase in volume …”

Therefore, Mylett said, the latest county model called for a jump of about 50%.

“I think you’re going to see it skyrocket in the county,” Ziegler responded.