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Blue is the new orange for Ocoee recyclers
Ocoee Public Works Department employees recently began exchanging customers’ 13-gallon, orange-colored recycling bins with new, 96-gallon, blue-colored recycling carts.
This switch is one of several major changes that will occur in August to help streamline the city’s recycling program, Public Works Director Steve Krug said Aug. 6.
“We’re going to start distributing the new carts on Aug. 11,” Krug said. “They’ll look just like the garbage carts we use, but they’ll be blue and say ‘recycle’ on them. We’ll be able to use our side-loading sanitation trucks to collect recycled items.”
The changes will increase efficiency in the recycling program but not the cost of service to customers, he said. The city collects about 2,400 tons of recycled items annually, and Krug hopes that total will double under the streamlined program.
Beginning Aug. 20, the city will start picking up recyclables every other Wednesday, rather than once a week on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday. In the new setup, customers will have their recycled items hauled away at least twice a month.
For the modernized program, Ocoee officials divided the city roughly along the Florida Central Railroad tracks into a red, north zone and a blue, south zone. Later this month, workers will haul away recyclables from red-zone customers on Aug. 20 and from blue-zone customers on Aug. 27.
Last week, the city mailed letters that explain the changes to customers. With the letters were maps of the zones, and calendar magnets that highlight all of the blue- and red-zone recycling pickup dates.
Krug said the city will use four of its seven side-loading sanitation trucks to pick up the new recycling carts. Each of these trucks has a mechanized arm that reaches out to pick up the carts and dump their contents into the vehicle. The city drops off the recycled items for free at Recycle America by Waste Management, 701 W. McCormick Road, Apopka.
Ocoee’s two orange-colored trucks that formerly collected recyclables will be sold at an auction, Krug said.
“Before, workers would grab the orange bins and throw them in the back of the truck,” he said. “That was very manual-labor intensive, and there was a higher risk of injury. I’m hoping (the changes) will reduce costs, because we’re able to reduce our truck fleet by two.”
Ocoee’s fleet of sanitation trucks also includes three, rear-loading trucks that pick up yard waste.
The city has about 12,000 sanitation customers, each of whom pays $252 annually to have trash, recyclables and yard waste hauled away. But only about a quarter of those customers participate in the recycling program, Krug said.
“Some people are really diligent,” he said. “We have some people who use four of the little (orange) recycling bins every week. But we’d really love to see everyone recycle. It’s that much more garbage being diverted from a landfill. And with less being taken to the landfill, the less cost there is to hauling it.”