City Recycling Game Takes a New Turn

Trash collection has become as easy as playing a video game, the city’s garbage hauler said this week while demonstrating a new recycling program meant to help comply with state law.

At the heart of Great Western Reclamation’s program are three plastic bins that residents will use to sort their trash. Gray bins are for recyclable goods such as newspapers and aluminum cans, green bins are for plant clippings, and burgundy bins are for trash that cannot be recycled.

Some city residents previously sorted their newspapers and plant clippings, but there were no provisions for other goods such as cardboard boxes and bottles.

And for those concerned about appearances, Great Western officials said, the new trash bins are neater than the hodgepodge of garbage cans and plastic bags currently used by residents.


The square bins are wheeled out to the curb by residents, lifted by a mechanical arm the driver controls with a joystick, and dumped into the truck.

“It’s pretty much a big Nintendo game once you get behind the wheel,” Great Western division President Robert J. Coyle said.

When delivery of all the new trash bins is completed in April, Great Western hopes to divert more than 40% of the city’s waste from landfills, project manager Jon Wright said. Continued educational efforts should bring that figure up to 50% by 2000 to comply with state law, he added.

As of this week, about 30% of city residents have received the new trash bins, Great Western officials said Tuesday.

The recycling program is part of a new trash contract signed by the city that generated some controversy last year.

The 12-year contract, valued at $20 million a year, was not sent out to bid, angering council members Ted R. Moreno and Tony Espinoza.

But the majority of council members defended the contract by pointing out that, due in part to lower landfill rates, residents could see lower trash bills.

Great Western officials said some residents have complained that the new trash bins require them to do more sorting.


But Great Western officials said such tasks are necessary to help decrease sorting costs at trash facilities and increase the amount of trash that is recycled.