FLORENCE — By early spring, Florence residents will see more and more blue carts along residential curbs on garbage collection day.
The Street and Sanitation Department has acquired 1,200 recycling carts with a grant to conduct a pilot program that officials hope will lead to greater participation in the curbside recycling program.
David Koonce, director of the Street and Sanitation Department, said a few of the carts already are in use, and selected neighborhoods in each of the city's six City Council districts are being studied for distribution of more carts.
"We're going to put them in neighborhoods to see how people like them, to see if it changes the participation rate in recycling," he said.
The carts will have something akin to a bar code that will be read by a device installed on recycling collection trucks, he said. That information will be fed into a database that will give the department a statistical means of measuring their use as well as participation.
"We are also sending out cards to people in those neighborhoods to see if they want one," Koonce said.
The carts have wheels like the green garbage carts, but hold 65 gallons instead of the 95 gallons in garbage carts, he said.
Currently, residents may request a green tub in which to place recycled materials, or recyclable materials may be bagged and placed on the curb.
About 35 percent of residential garbage customers participate in the curbside recycling program. Florence has the state's oldest curbside program, dating to the 1980s.
Koonce said the city has applied for another grant in an effort to obtain an additional 1,500 recycling carts. He said they cost about $50 apiece.
The reception the new carts receive from residents will have an important role in any decision about issuing carts to everyone, he said.
Mayor Mickey Haddock said the information derived from the pilot program will help the City Council decide whether to buy more carts.
"We want to do everything we can to support our recycling program, but like everything else, we have to look at the cost it would incur to our sanitation budget," he said. "When we gather the information, we can see the response of the citizens to the carts, then decide what direction we should go in."
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.