St. Augustine banking on solid waste pilot program

by: Lorena Incl\u00E1n Updated:

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Large trucks carrying large plastic carts rolled into Davis Shores Tuesday morning, delivering one to about 65 homes. 

It's all part of a growing pilot program to reduce the amount of solid waste going to landfills. It was so successful in Nelmar Terrace the city expanded it.  

Starting this Friday, homeowners will use the new 65-gallon containers to dispose of recyclable items.

"I’ll give it a shot," said homeowner Austin Mills.  

The new and much bigger carts are replacing 18-gallon bins. Now trash pickups will go from twice a week to once a week; garbage will be collected on Tuesdays and recyclables on Fridays. 

According to the St. Augustine manager of solid waste, Rick Stevens, this program will reduce how much the city pays in landfill fees -- a rate that is set to go up in January. 

"Right now it's set at $44.18 and it's supposed to go up to $52. We are looking at a way to try to not pass that along to the customer," said Stevens. 

Those dollar amount are per ton. On average, Stevens said, St. Augustine transfers 300 tons of solid waste to landfills every week. 

"By going and trying to do this pilot program, we've actually increased our recycling numbers -- almost doubled them so that's brought the tipping fee for the stuff that goes to the transfer station down," said Stevens. 

Stevens said it saves money and helps the city "go green". Mills said it’s worth a try. 

"We just can't keep putting stuff in landfills, because eventually there's no room," said Mills.  

In about three months, leaders will conduct a survey in Davis Shores; based on those results, they'll come up with a proposal for potential; citywide program.