A year ago, the city of Sylvania switched to a weekly recycling program, and since then, about 700,000 pounds of plastics, tin, aluminum, glass, and other refuse have been diverted from landfills.
Introduced last September to replace the city's former biweekly recycling pickup schedule, the weekly program has proven more successful than expected.
The goal to increase the recycling volume by 20 percent has been exceeded, Greg Stalter of Allied Waste Services told council members last week. The average monthly pickup climbed from 88 tons of recyclables to about 116 tons, he said.
Councilman Keith Haddad, who supported the change to a weekly recycling program, said recycling may be more popular because more frequent pickups reduce the amount of material people have to retain between collections.
Another part of the increase, he said, is related to the items that can be recycled. People now can put office paper and unwanted mail at the curb, along with plastics, newspapers, magazines, cardboard, tin, aluminum, and glass.
Some residents might be reluctant to put junk mail with their names on the envelopes at the curb, Mr. Haddad said, suggesting that they first shred and bag the paper before taking it to the curb.
To encourage more participation, city officials plan to promote the program, such as by posting information on Sylvania's Web site.
In other action last week, council agreed to buy a large quantity of bags for another curbside program.
Council authorized the purchase of 69,300 green refuse bags.
The bulk purchase will keep the price of the printed bags in line with previous smaller-quantity purchases of about 52 cents per bag, Mayor Craig Stough said. Prices for a smaller quantity of bags were escalating toward 80 cents each.
The retail price for the bags is $2 each and the bags can be purchased from several area stores, the city zoning office, and at the city forestry building.
The city sells the bags to the stores for $1.75 wholesale to allow them a profit for their participation, but stores sometimes discount the retail price as they do with other goods they sell, the mayor said.
Sylvania's green refuse bags are sold at a higher cost than the actual manufacturing cost of the bags to include a service fee and help pay for the pickup and recycling of the green yard waste.
Mr. Haddad explained that the cost the city charges for the bags helps pay for personnel, equipment, vehicles, fuel, and other expenses of operating the green yard waste program. Because revenue from the sale of the bags doesn't cover the program's budget, the city provides money to the program from its general fund, he said.
When the state outlawed green waste being placed in garbage landfills several years ago, Sylvania was one of the first to start its own program to collect, compost, and recycle green yard waste, Mayor Stough said.
He pointed out that residents who want to have their grass clippings picked up and recycled pay for the service when they buy the bags. This means all of Sylvania's taxpayers do not have to pay for a service used by only a portion of the city's residents, he said.
Branches are picked up by the city for free, and the city annually schedules three free pickups for green yard waste for spring, summer, and fall yard cleanups.
Residents have the option of buying less expensive non-Sylvania bags and taking filled bags to a recycling center themselves, such as the center on Bancroft Street just west of U.S. 23, the mayor said. About 40,000 bags are sold annually.
Annual stickers for green waste pickup are available for $30 and can be placed on the resident's own trash can for pickup throughout the year. The price is prorated as the year passes, he said.