Richland County began changes to its recycling and trash program Monday that should decrease the amount of waste going into the landfill and waterways.
In two parts of the county, residents are now using full-sized rollcarts for recyclables, big new containers that will be emptied every other week. Garbage will continue to be collected weekly.
The county also is requiring residents who rake their yards to bag leaves and twigs. Branches must be bundled. Collectors won’t pick up yard waste that isn’t in a bag or container.
The new requirements represent the biggest change to garbage collection in unincorporated areas in years.
And while the larger recycling containers are not widely used yet, they likely will be adopted by more jurisdictions as time goes on, a state recycling expert said.
The city of Columbia will take up the issue during budget deliberations this spring.
Jim McCauley, who lives in southeast Columbia, said the county delivered his new rollcart 10 days ago — and it’s full and ready for Wednesday pickup.
“It’s a great idea, picking it up every two weeks,” McCauley said. “The container is big enough. A lot more items can be put in than before.”
By 2015, all 88,000 households in unincorporated Richland County will have the same collection routine, county officials have said.
The changes in Richland County mirror services in the town of Irmo.
Irmo residents have bagged their yard waste for years, and began using 65-gallon rollcarts for recyclables last summer, administrator Bob Brown said. The rollcarts are about five times bigger than the old bins, and nearly as big as the trash rollcart.
“Everybody likes them,” he said. “People who recycle get to recycle more.”
Richard Chesley, who heads the state recycling office, said the new method typically would result in a higher collection rate because it’s more convenient. The downside is that some residents “go overboard,” putting materials in their rollcarts that are not accepted by the program.
Chesley said he wasn’t sure how common it is to require the bagging of yard waste in South Carolina, but said it seems to be a national trend.
Councilman Norman Jackson said some residents who attended a meeting he organized last week on the changes liked the leaf-bagging requirement. After they make the effort to clean up their lawns, they are frustrated if the wind blows a neighbor’s leaves into their yards, he said.