Astoria residents will have curbside yard debris and glass recycling carts to add to their regular recycling and garbage bins by the end of August.
Pickup won’t start until September, however, with the first yard debris collection occurring on customers’ regular service day beginning Sept. 4. The first glass pickup is scheduled for Sept. 25.
The City Council voted 3-2 in June to approve a rate increase to add these services offered by garbage collection company Recology Western Oregon.
City Councilors Zetty Nemlowill, Bruce Jones and Tom Brownson voted in favor of the increase, saying, at most, it would add only a few dollars to a customer’s monthly bill.
Mayor Arline LaMear was against yard debris pickup, but in favor of curbside glass pickup. Councilor Cindy Price opposed the increases, citing concerns about raising fees. She remains concerned about where people will put the extra bins, especially in places where space is already limited.
The total cost of garbage and recycling pickup services with the addition of these new services will vary from customer to customer based on the size of bins they already have and how often they are scheduled for pickup.
People can opt out of the program — residents are already able to drop off glass and yard debris at the Astoria Transfer Station for free — but they can’t opt out of the increased fees. Those who opt out can have the new carts picked up and returned at no additional charge, according to Recology.
Recology General Manager Fred Stemmler said the company expects 10 to 20 percent of customers will decline one or both carts. But he also expects the program to build gradually, saying, “Most people are not zero to 60 with participation on this.”
As it becomes more familiar, he believes more people will participate.
“We are confident this program will be widely adopted throughout the area and thereby result in a high diversion percentage right out of the gate,” Stemmler wrote in a letter to City Manager Brett Estes. “This would mean less material treated as trash and we love that.”
Recology has already introduced a similar program in McMinnville. People there have been particularly enthusiastic about the glass collection service, Stemmler said.
The biggest adjustment, and where Stemmler expects there will be some confusion, will be with people’s service schedules. That information will be included with the new carts. Anyone who needs additional information is encouraged to visit Recology’s website or call the local office at 503-861-0578.
Stemmler said some people could end up saving money with these new curbside collection options since the yard debris option for Type 1 compost — plants and unprepared fruit and vegetable scraps — will likely reduce the amount of trash otherwise thrown into the regular trash bin. Someone with a weekly pickup schedule and a larger garbage bin could then downsize or go to twice monthly pickup.