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City May Explore Automated Recycling In Pilot Program

The Public Works Commission will discuss holding an automated recycling pilot project at its March meeting.

Solon officials may run a pilot program in a small section of the city to test automated recycling before they decide whether to roll it out citywide.

The hope is that automated recycling -- in which a front-loading truck with an arm that picks up a standardized container from the curb -- will cut costs and increase recycling by residents.

The public works committee plans to discuss the matter further at its March meeting, including possible locations for the pilot project.

The city needs new recycling equipment because the trucks are about 17 years old and are showing wear and tear, With that need imminent, service department officials sa its time to consider the switch to automated pickup.

Automated pickup involves a front-loading truck with an arm that picks up a standardized container provided by the city. It makes the process more efficient, reduces worker injury and promotes recycling.

The city automated its solid waste pickup in 2009, and the program has been successful at reducing costs and the amount of trash that people produce, which helps Solon's bottom line by shrinking the amount of trash the city dumps.

Service Director Tom Bandiera has said the city has cut the amount of monthly trash dumped from as much as 12,000 tons to roughly 7,000 tons.

Bandiera said he expects residents will adapt well to the new recycling pickup since they seem to enjoy the automated trash program.

"Our residents are doing an outstanding job with the automated solid waste," Bandiera told the public works committee last year. "I don't think its going to be as big a transition."

The cost comparison between the automated and the current manual program shows that the automated program would save the city about $700 per month, and about $112,400 annually.

He said the city saw a big boost when they went to single-stream recycling from a system the required sorting recyclables. Now the rate is about 46 percent, up from about 20 percent, Bandiera said.

He thinks the automated program will boost recycling rates in Solon. He estimates a 40 percent increase in participation.

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