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City keeps ad agency on recycling

– The Board of Public Works voted unanimously Wednesday to extend a contract with a local ad agency to promote the city’s recycling program.

Last year, the board approved a $70,000 contract with Asher Agency to provide promotional services for the city recycling program. That deal included provisions to allow up to three one-year extensions at $90,000 each. The board voted to approve the first extension Wednesday.

Officials said participation in the recycling program increased from 70 percent of households to 78 percent in the last year, nearly meeting the mayor’s goal of 80 percent.

Asher first helped the city develop a strategy to increase recycling in areas where recycling rates lagged. That strategy included creating messages and recommending communication methods.

Officials said they’re looking at creating a smartphone app that would remind residents when it is their week to recycle. They may also turn some of the education efforts toward preventing contamination of recycled materials.

The city’s recycling and garbage contracts with National Serv-All each require the company to pay the city $50,000 annually for public education. That revenue will pay for the advertising contract.

The city previously used that money for postcards and advertising to alert residents about the program, which replaced the two-bin, separated system with a single large cart.

Under the 2-year-old program, participation has more than doubled; monthly fees have dropped by $1.29 since 2010 because of the revenue created by selling recycled materials; and more and more waste is being diverted from the landfill.

Residents interested in signing up for the program should call 311.

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