$3.1 million: Projected cost of recycling containers for all Chattanooga residents

12,000: Approximate number of customers signed up for city recycling program

$660,000: Projected cost for 12,000 recycling containers

Source: City of Chattanooga

Chattanooga is looking at another step forward in its recycling program.

A capital budget proposed by Mayor Ron Littlefield will include money to buy recycling containers for those already enrolled in the city's recycling program.

"We're planning on putting it in the budget," said Richard Beeland, spokesman for the mayor. "At what level, we don't know yet."

City officials have asked for more than $300,000 to pay for 6,000 recycling containers. The city has about 12,000 subscribers and could request another 6,000 containers next year.

Beeland said the proposed budget will be presented to the City Council within weeks.

Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd said she would consider the request, but added, "That's the least of my priorities."

"It's going to be what else comes before us," Ladd said. Before voting on the containers, she said, she'd want to know if they are sustainable and will save money.

The idea of distributing containers for recycling is not new, Beeland said.

"We've been talking about it for years," he said.

Sanitation supervisor Justin Holland said the city has 60,000 garbage customers. Providing each with a recycling container would cost about $3.1 million, he said, but the city doesn't intend to buy all the containers in one swoop.

"It would have to be phased in," he said.

He compared it to the 1990s, when the city switched from metal garbage cans to the current green containers. The hope is that having containers will encourage more people to recycle, he said.

Many residents complain about not having proper storage for recycling, Holland said, but the city has no plans for what to do if the demand for containers outweighs the supply.

"That's a good problem to have," he said.