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May 25, 2015

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So far, so good for Henderson recycling program

Recycling in test neighborhoods has increased from 6 percent to more than 30 percent

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Justin M. Bowen

Recycling bins are seen on the curb in an Anthem neighborhood in Henderson. Since the pilot program launched, the city has been fine-tuning it and working to address concerns through neighborhood and community meetings.

For years, residential waste in Henderson has been handled the same way. Trash is picked up twice a week. Recycling gets sorted into paper, plastic, glass and cans, and is picked up every other week.

That could all change if a pilot program the city is testing in more than a dozen neighborhoods is expanded to include the entire community.

The program aims to increase recycling by moving to weekly pickups of single-stream bins — which combine all recyclables into one container that looks like a typical trash can.

The change is working so far — recycling in the test neighborhoods has increased from 6 percent to more than 30 percent.

But easier, more frequent recycling comes with a trade-off — garbage will only be picked up once a week, which raises concerns among some residents about stinky garbage cooking in the Nevada heat.

Other residents say the new single-stream recycling bins don’t easily fit in their garages and that the larger cans are more difficult to maneuver than the individual bins, especially for the elderly.

“They’re too bulky,” said Edith Silverberg, who lives in Sun City Solera. “There’s no room for them. It doesn’t bother me having to sort out the recyclables.”

About a quarter of the city’s homes are included in the pilot, but Sun City Solera was excluded after residents opposed bringing it to their neighborhood.

City officials are pleased with the results so far and say that various resident concerns can be dealt with.

“Initially we had a lot of phone calls,” Henderson spokeswoman Kathleen Richards said.

Since the program launched, the city has been fine-tuning it and working to address concerns through neighborhood and community meetings.

“A lot of people, once they’ve gotten accustomed to it, have become supportive,” Richards said.

The pilot will end in September after a nearly yearlong test, after which the City Council will review the results and vote whether to expand it to the rest of the city.

All of Henderson’s council members and the mayor have had their neighborhoods included in the program, so they’ve been testing it firsthand in advance of their decision.

Councilwoman Debra March said she’s become a fan of single-stream after finding it makes dealing with her recyclables an easier, less time-consuming process.

“When I used to put bins out in the street, the paper and plastic tended to blow around,” she said. “Now, when I’ve got papers in my car in the garage, I just take it out and throw it away into recycling. It makes handling things quick.”

March said the program fits into Henderson’s broader goal of promoting sustainability and planning for the future.

Single-stream recycling is also being tested in other markets, including at 42,000 homes in North Las Vegas and another 10,000 homes in Las Vegas, said Bob Coyle, vice president of government affairs for Republic Services, the valley’s waste-management contractor.

“By giving them the large (recycling cart), we’re doubling the amount of recycling that can fit in the containers,” he said. “All they have to do is throw all their recyclables in there. People often say, ‘I didn’t realize how much I could really recycle.’ ”

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