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1 year into revised city trash service, recycling still stagnant
Gainesville program no longer reliant on tax dollars
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Gainesville City Council

What: Work session to discuss results of new trash plan
When: 9 a.m. today
Where: Room 303, Joint Administration Building, 300 Henry Ward Way

A new program that restricts the amount of trash Gainesville residents can toss out may not have encouraged them to recycle.

The city's solid waste officials are expected to report to the council this morning on the state of the city's current trash service, which limits the amount the city will pick up to 96 gallons.

The city altered its trash collection program in January with hopes it would encourage residents to recycle. The plan was also supposed to save the city money.

Assistant City Manager Angela Sheppard said the city is saving money from the changes —solid waste collection now operates independent of tax dollars — but residents are not recycling more.

In fact, Public Works Director David Dockery said solid waste officials have noticed that the amount of metal collected from recycling residents has decreased.

Dockery said that decrease could be because residents are selling aluminum at local recycling companies.

Last year, council members considered a number of options for city trash collection, including cutting the twice-weekly pickup to a once-a-week collection and ending the city's rare back-door trash service.

But after hearing from residents, the council implemented minor changes to trash service and moved its recycling pickup to an in-house operation.

Trash is still picked up twice weekly from city residences; recyclables are picked up once a week.

Despite the overall outlook that shows the amount of recyclables has not increased in Gainesville, Sheppard said she does believe that individual households are recycling a little bit more.

When the city took over the collection of recyclables, the government ordered 1,000 large recycling containers to distribute to residents. All but 275 have been distributed, Sheppard said.

Council meets at 9 a.m. today at the Joint Administration Building to hear the update on the program.

It's unclear whether there will be any action as a result of the report, but city officials say there most likely will not be any changes customers will notice.

Mayor Pro Tem Danny Dunagan does expect there will be a discussion on how to encourage residents to recycle more.

"I want to see, basically, are we getting more recycling and are we saving money and (if there are) any ideas on what we may do to get the public to recycle more," Dunagan said.

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