Crews will begin delivering 64-gallon recycling carts this month to tens of thousands of homes in the city of Santa Fe, replacing the smaller blue bins as part of a revamped recycling system.

Residents will be able to toss all recyclable materials into the carts for curbside service, with the exception of glass, which will be eliminated altogether from weekly pickup. Acceptable materials for the carts include aluminum and steel cans; mixed paper, newspaper, boxes and cardboard; and plastics.

About 30,000 of the carts will be delivered to the city’s residential customers between March 13 and March 31, said Adam Schlachter, outreach coordinator for the Santa Fe Environmental Services Division. Each city solid waste accountholder will get one new cart.

Monthly bills for recycling and trash pickup of $15.75, plus tax, will not increase as a result of the changes to Santa Fe’s recycling program, according to Schlachter, who said it’s too early to tell if the changes will lead to savings for taxpayers or increase the city’s recycling rate — which in previous years has been much lower than state and national recycling rate averages.

The city’s recycling program changes will ease the recycling process for residents in some ways by eliminating a requirement to separate certain materials. But the changes also will shift the burden of hauling the heaviest recyclables on to residents, who will be asked to drop off glass at four sites across the city.

Residents are encouraged to keep their old blue bins and use them to haul glass materials to the drop-off sites.

Glass deposited at those sites will continue to be pulverized at the Buckman Road Recycling & Transfer Station, which sells the crushed glass to local end users.

Schlachter defended the city’s decision to eliminate glass from curbside pickup, saying the city offers an assistance program for those who are unable to handle their own trash or recycling because of restricted mobility.

In 2015, Santa Fe began contracting with Albuquerque-based Friedman Recycling Co. The move enabled the city to expand items that could be recycled, including more types of plastics and cardboard. But the Albuquerque facility does not accept glass, Schlachter said.

The nearest recycling facility that separates all material, including glass, is in Colorado Springs, Colo., and shipping Santa Fe’s recyclables there is cost-prohibitive, he said.

A fleet of seven new recycling trucks — with automatic loading arms fit to pick up the new 64-gallon bins — will replace the city’s fleet of seven trucks that required manual loading, Schlachter said. The move eliminates the safety hazards of employees handling glass, he said.

The fleet change also means the elimination of five temporary positions for workers who manually loaded the trucks.

Justin Horwath can be reached at 505-986-3017 or jhorwath@sfnewmexican.com.

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