They're purple, they have black lids and they'll be coming to 200 Fort Dodge homes soon.
And once those uniquely colored containers arrive, the residents who get them can drop all their recycling materials inside without sorting and separating paper, glass, plastic and metal.
Those containers will be a key part of an upcoming pilot program to test a new way of recycling in the city. The program will begin in September and continue for six months.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Shane Langemeier, regional sales manager with Wastequip of Waterloo, at left, looks over a toter bin with Fort Dodge Public Works director Greg Koch Thursday afternoon at the City Public Works Garage. The bins will be tested in a pilot program for co-mingled curbside recycling in Fort Dodge.
Recycling by putting everything into one bin without sorting it is called single stream recycling, according to Public Works Director Greg Koch.
''Single stream is more convenient for the customer,'' he said.
''We want to provide the best service possible to our citizens,'' he added. ''I think that providing a single stream recycling method is one way of doing that within the refuse collection respect.''
According to Koch, the ultimate goal is to divert more material from the landfill by making it easier for residents to participate in curbside recycling.
For years, Fort Dodge residents who participate in the weekly curbside collection program have put their recycling materials in blue bins. But within those bins, they've had to separate the different kinds of items, often by placing them in old shopping bags.
Koch said the entire city will eventually be switched to single stream curbside recycling. Learning how such a system works and what it will cost are the goals of the pilot program, he said.
Councilman Dave Flattery recently visited the city's central garage at 3001 Eighth Ave. S. to check out an example of the new recycling containers. He said he thinks the single stream system will reduce costs while increasing recycling.
''I think the positives far out weigh the negatives,'' he said
There are no plans to eliminate the large recycling drop boxes positioned at a handful of sites in the community.
The move to single stream curbside recycling citywide will dovetail with a change in the way garbage is collected that is expected to take place in 2014. In that year, a new style of garbage truck that uses a mechanical arm to lift and empty trash cans will be introduced in the city.
Planning the test
The city's Public Works Department and the regional recycling center on the south side of Fort Dodge are currently set up to receive recycling materials that have been separated. To handle single stream recycling, city officials entered an agreement with Greenstar, a materials recovery facility in Des Moines that receives unsorted items.
Greenstar is purchasing the 200 containers, called toters, that will be distributed to the Fort Dodge residents.
That company will receive the material collected during the upcoming test and pay the city a share of the profits it receives from the sale of it, according to Koch.
He said recyclable materials are now bought and sold like commodities.
A hydraulic lift is being added to one of the city's three garbage trucks so that the toters can be lifted and emptied.
City staffers picked two groups of 100 homes - one on the northeast side of Fort Dodge and one on the southeast side to be part of the pilot project.
One of the areas in the pilot program includes parts of 10th Avenue North, North 26th Street and 22nd Avenue North.
The other area includes parts of Highland Park Avenue, South 20th Street, South 21st Street and Oleson Park Avenue. Maps showing those areas are on the city web site, www.fortdodgeiowa.org.
Residents selected to be part of the project will receive letters from Koch explaining what will happen.
City crews will deliver the toters to each home that will be involved in the project during the week of Aug. 20, according to Koch. The toters look like tall garbage cans with a pair of wheels on the bottom. They have a 96 gallon capacity.
Koch acknowledged that a 96-gallon container may seem like a big bulky thing that some people won't be able to move to the curb or the alley, but he added that they are designed to be used by just about anybody. He described them as ''very ergonomical.''
He added that if someone can't manage the toter, ''we will work with them to get them a solution to recycle.''
City sanitation crews will empty the toters every other Wednesday. Residents will be given a schedule showing what days their recycling materials will be picked up.
The first collection day for the 100 homes on the city's north side will be Sept. 5.
On the south side, the first collection day will be Sept. 12.
The toters should be placed where residents now put their trash and recycling bins either at the curb or in the alley.
Residents involved in the pilot project will continue to place their garbage out for collection according to the regular schedule.
Material collected during the pilot program will be taken to the regional recycling center on Gypsum Hollow Road, where Greenstar crews will pick it up.
At the company's Des Moines facility, the material will be poured into a ''single stream machine'' which separates all the items, according to Kelley McReynolds, the general manager.
McReynolds said his company handles single stream recycling for more than 30 Iowa communities.
He said cities that switch to single stream recycling experience an increase in both participation and collected materials.