Recycling made easy

Thousands of bright blue recycling carts are being delivered to Oak Harbor residents this month in preparation for a new age of recycling beginning Nov. 7.

City workers started delivering the 65-gallon rollcarts last month and will have all 4,000 in place by Oct. 20, said Steve Bebee, solid waste field supervisor for the city.

The new carts replace the small, 15-gallon gray plastic boxes that in the past have held recyclable materials at participating households.

The big advantage of the big new carts to the city is that they can be loaded automatically. The smaller bins have to be dumped by hand into the recycling truck. “Now it’s very labor intensive,” Bebee said.

Recycling will also be easier for the customer, as all recyclables go into the single large container. No more separating items into smaller bins. “Now the driver sorts through two or three of the gray bins at the truck,” Bebee said. “It’ll be one stop. It’s great.”

The contents of the large carts will be transported to the Island Disposal site south of Coupeville, where workers will sort the recyclable materials.

“It makes it easier for the homeowner, and recycling definitely increases,” Bebee said.

People who recycle can throw most of their regular recycling materials into the single large container. The glaring exception is glass, which is not allowed because bottles and jars could break and injure the workers who sort through the material.

Bebee said plans are to install a glass drop-off point near Albertson’s that anyone can use. A second glass drop-off point somewhere on the east side of town is planned for the future.

At present, only about 20 percent of Oak Harbor’s trash is recycled. The goal is 50 percent. While the new carts may not do the entire job, they should help entice more people to recycle. “We hope this will dramatically increase the numbers,” Bebee said.

Homeowners will not see a rate increase as the cost is built into the existing fee schedule.

Automatic loading will allow the city to serve a greater area without hiring more manpower. Beginning Jan. 1, a large annexation will be complete after a seven-year transition period. Island Disposal will stop serving several developments, and the city will take over. Those areas include Fireside, Whidbey Links, Whidbey Greens, Swantown Ridge and Meadow Ridge. Those 600 households will see their first day of city pickup on Jan. 6.

Bebee said automatic loading will save the city the expense of hiring another 1.5 workers to handle recycling in the annexation area.

Educating citizens on what to recycle is one of the city’s biggest challenges. They paid extra so that each bin will feature a picture on the lid showing what can and can’t be recycled.

“This is really important,” Bebee said, asking that citizens to make sure that only approved materials are placed in the recycling carts.

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