Curbside recycling program kicks off in Yakima

Curbside recycling program kicks off in Yakima

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Some people in Yakima saw something new driving through their neighborhood today: city crews picking up their recycling material. The long-awaited pilot program started Tuesday with the first collection.

For ten years, Paula Vest has been doing her recycling at a local church. Now, she's one of 550 participants in Yakima's pilot curbside recycling program.

"It's a good first step," Vest said. "It's late, but it's a great first step."

It's the first time she's had her plastic and cans picked up outside her house. Paula traded in her 96-gallon garbage container for a smaller can, as well as one for her recycling and yard waste.

Karen Bannett isn't as excited.

"A little apprehensive because you don't know exactly what's going to become of all this stuff, and with all the barrels that you have to take care of and change out," Bannett said. "And, what to put in the barrels."

The pickup crews also provided instant feedback. Neighbors got notices on their containers.  Some got a star saying everything looked perfect. When not so perfect, they get an 'oops tag'. It lets them know they put something in their recycling container that wasn't allowed.

"I got almost perfect," Vest said. "We had one drink cup in our recycle, and I did that this morning."

The pilot program will last four months, covering homes east and north of Kissell Park. It costs neighbors $10 a month for the containers. The elderly and disabled can opt out.

"In order for the city to get good, solid baseline data, we're really encouraging people to participate," Yakima Refuse Division manager Loretta Zammarchi said.

On Day One, they collected more than 5,000 pounds.
"In the week that we've done it, we also had half as much garbage, and we almost filled up the recycle bin," Vest said.

And, less garbage could help the current landfill in Terrace Heights last longer.

The pilot program will end in August. Yakima City Council will then decide whether it worked well enough to expand it.

Glass can't be recycled as a part of the program.