Public Works employees Mark Johnson, left, and Antwon Jones collect curbside recycling in this file photo.
More than 6,500 people have signed up so far for the city's new biweekly recycling service, which begins Labor Day. Officials said they're hoping for more.
"We certainly hope those numbers change drastically," Justin Holland, the city's sanitation manager, said last week.
The city announced at the beginning of June that it would increase curbside recycling pickups from once a month to biweekly. At the same time, the city also announced its new on-demand brush pickup service that is currently in place.
Mr. Holland said he believes more people have not signed up yet for the recycling service because they do not know they have to go to the www.recycleright.org or call 423-643-5646 (JOIN).
City officials said the reason for the change was that the amount of clean recyclable material has doubled.
Mr. Holland said the number of people who have signed up for collection is similar to the number of customers who recycled when signup was not required. Typically, the city averaged about 6,500 to 8,000 customers a month in its previous recycling efforts, he said.
City officials said the new program, combined with the brush-on-demand service, would save taxpayer money. Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mr. Littlefield, said the new curbside program requires less manpower and would cut back drastically on overtime. It also saves on fuel expenses, he said.
Money is saved because the service concentrates on only those who sign up for recycling or call for brush pickup, he said, so trucks are not wandering aimlessly around city streets, looking for recycled materials.
"It should save us about $750,000 to $1 million," he said.
The new program also has quieted some complaints about the city's recycling program. In June, Frank DePinto, a longtime recycling advocate, called off a petition to recall Mayor Ron Littlefield after the announcement that recycling was going biweekly.
Mr. DePinto could not be reached for comment, but he said in the past that he felt the biweekly program was a step in the right direction.
Mr. Holland said the customers who have signed up are spread out around the city, with the most densely populated areas requesting the most pickups.
"There are streets where no one has signed up to participate and streets where almost everyone has signed up," he said.
A more consistent pickup service is another benefit, said Martin Smith, recycling education coordinator at the Orange Grove Center, where all city recycling is taken and sorted to be sold. Going to biweekly helps spread out the workload for Orange Grove clients, he said.
"It'll make it more consistent," he said. "It'll set everything on a more regular basis."
ON THE WEB
Go to www.recycleright.org to sign up for the city's new recycling service or to find out when your pickup day is scheduled.
He also believes more people will take part in the program.
"Participation is probably going to pick up," he said. "Some people aren't aware they have to sign up."