Evanston could dramatically increase recycling just by providing residents with big recycling carts instead of the existing small recycling bins.

That’s the conclusion of an experiment in which the city distributed recycling carts to residents of two small areas of town to see how much they’d be used. The carts replaced the existing 18-gallon bins now used across the city

Streets and Sanitation Superintendent Suzette Eggleston told the City Council’s Administration and Public Works Committee Monday that the results of the six-week test showed a 32 percent increase in recycling in the northwest Evanston neighborhood bounded by Isabella Street, McDaniel Avenue, Thayer Street and Ewing Avenue. That area got 95-gallon recycling carts.

And in the west Evanston block bounded by Emerson Street, Dodge Avenue, Church Street and Brown Avenue, the test showed a recycling increase of nearly 23 percent. That area received 65-gallon carts.

Eggleston said those results dramatically beat ones reported by the Solid Waste Authority of Northern Cook County, which show gains ranging from 2 to 12 percent when communities switch to the big recycling carts.

Adopting the program city-wide, Eggleston said, would lower the amount of money the city has to pay to have garbage dumped in landfills.

But that leaves the question of how to pay for the new carts, which Eggleston said will cost a total of $800,000.

She said the city hopes to get a $60,000 state grant in each of the next four years to cover part of the cost. The rest, she said, could be raised by adopting a new charge for residents who have more than one trash cart.

About 5,000 of the nearly 15,000 households now provided with garbage pickup by the city have more than one trash cart. The proposed $2.50 monthly service fee for the extra carts, Eggleston said, could raise an estimated $150,000 per year.

And, she said, it should encourage people who have more than one trash cart now to do more recycling in an effort to eliminate their need for a second one.

She said she’s proposing that the city phase in the transition to recycling carts over four years, adding one garbage pickup day to the program each year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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