The plan has been in the works for a long time, said city sanitation director Fernie Rendon, and the council’s action gave it the final go-ahead.
Plans call for each household that requests the curbside service to receive two bins, either blue or green, depending on the area, one for plastic and one for paper. Glass will not be accepted, nor will fluorescent paper, wax-covered paperboard (like old milk cartons), Styrofoam, or aerosol cans, he said.
The pickup will accept magazines, newspapers, cardboard, paperboard, junk mail, phone books, and office paper, he said, and detailed information on the pickup will go out in January’s utility bills.
The curbside recycling pickup will be offered at no charge, Rendon said, and is paid for by the city’s sanitation fund. Someday, as the return from recyclables increases, the program may pay for itself, he said.
“Right now we’re looking at about 1,000 (participants), but that may go up,” he said. “We’ll adjust accordingly as the demand goes up.”
The city will hire two new people to provide pickup, he said, paying them $14.20 per hour. The sanitation department had received 86 applications for the positions, he said, with even more calls coming in after the deadline. The final applicants will be interviewed this week.
In addition to fliers about the new service in utility bills, sanitation workers will have sign-up sheets in neighborhoods as soon as the new crew gets on board, Rendon said, probably by mid-January.
The startup program will use a pickup truck pulling a trailer for carrying the recyclables in a “truly manual operation,” he said, but added that he hopes in the future the city can get its own recycle truck.
The two-person crew is just the beginning, he said, and current routes will be tested for the next sixth months to see if they work.
Regardless of routes, curbside pickup of recyclables is in Montrose to stay, Rendon said.
“The recycling program is ongoing,” he said. “We’re going to be working four routes per week, Tuesday through Friday, and pickup will be once every two weeks.”
Pickup crews will give a cursory look to the contents of the recycle bins, he said, but he’s counting on the voluntary cooperation of residents to follow the rules.
Sanitation employees are excited about the new program, he said, not only because it’s a new program that creates jobs but because it will help the environment and save money.
“It’s new for everybody here, and as we get closer, a new venture for myself, and I’m getting excited,” Rendon said. “We’ve also worked pretty closely with Western Waste at the transfer station to make sure we can work with them. They’re all about recycling and a lot of people use them.”
The city sanitation department has tried a few pilot programs for curbside recycling pickup in the past, Rendon said, but there was no place to take the recycled materials at the time. Now, the city can take materials to be recycled to the transfer station, he said.
“It’s a big savings for us to go there instead of up to the landfill,” he said. “It saves taxpayers’ money.”
The public seems ready for a recycling program, Rendon said, and many people have shown positive interest in the program.
“We tried two pilot programs in the last three or four years, just testing the waters, but they were not real successful,” he said. “As we’ve progressed people have shown more and more interest and we’ve committed ourselves to it. I think we’ve got a lot of people interested and will have a better showing this time.”
Personnel at city hall are putting the final touches on fliers on the new program that will go in the mail next month, Rendon said. People in Montrose can sign up for curbside recycling pickup by calling city hall at 240-1400, the sanitation department at 240-1494 or the city shop at 240-1480. They can also sign up online at www.cityofmontrose.org.