PORTLAND — When it comes to recycling, the city is ready to put a lid on it. Wheels, too.
City Sustainability Coordinator Troy Moon said new 64- and 96-gallon recycling carts – complete with lids – will be available next week.
“We expect to start delivering them by Aug. 8,” Moon said July 28, with the official rollout of 25,000 bins on Aug. 7. Almost all are 64 gallons; 1,500 96-gallon carts will be delivered to buildings with five or more housing units.
Moon said the carts should all be delivered by Labor Day.
The carts will replace the 16- and 18-gallon open bins residents now set out for public works crews, although users are welcome to keep the smaller bins to collect recyclables to be dumped into the larger carts.
“We are not planning to take them away from people,” Moon said.
Once all the carts are delivered, the city will phase out the smaller bins, perhaps by the end of September.
The carts have been a long time coming; the shift was recommended by a solid waste task force in 2011. In 2016, a study by the University of Southern Maine found litter from overflowing recycling bins amounted to 3.74 tons annually for every 1,000 households. The estimate has to be multiplied by 15 to understand its true effect, Moon said.
“It was eye-opening how much was blowing away,” he said. “I’d feel terrible. You could see it happening and there was nothing you could do.”
Overall, the new carts cost $1 million, with a grant from the nonprofit Recycling Partnership funding $175,000, or $7 of the per-cart cost of $40. The carts are being provided to residents at no charge and will be assembled before delivery, according to the terms of the vendor contract.
City garbage trucks will be equipped to lift and dump two carts at a time, Moon said. The current capital improvement plan also funds a new truck; the Public Works Department is working on the design.
Shifting to carts does not affect the city’s pay-per-bag trash collection program. The Public Works Department sought bids for privatizing solid waste and recyclable collection in January, but determined it was better to have the city provide the services.
Moon said residents should also know they are not required to roll the carts out every week if they are not full.
Open recycling bins such as these seen on Brackett Street last month will be replaced Aug. 7 by 64- and 96-gallon carts with lids that will be distributed free by the city.
While not on the streets until next week, the new recycling carts for Portland residents were on view in City Hall on July 28.