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Blue Cart Crew recycling saves money in St. Peters

A seemingly routine board item actually is good news for St. Peters residents and for the city.

At its Dec. 17 meeting, the Board of Aldermen passed Bill No. 20-145 by a vote of 8-0, authorizing the purchase of 936,000 recycling Blue Bags from Wastezeroinc for $105,120.

Carl Crain, environmental services director for the city of St. Peters, explained that Blue Bags are how residents in St. Peters recycle curbside. Paper items go in one Blue Bag, and containers go in a separate Blue Bag.

“Those Blue Bags are then placed in the trash cart alongside regular trash,” Crain clarified. “Recycled materials in the Blue Bags are sorted at St. Peters’ Recycle City facility on Ecology Drive, then are sold on the open market to offset trash costs and keep St. Peters residents’ trash service fees the lowest in the area.”

According to Crain, the cost for Blue Bags in 2021 will be about $80,000 less for St. Peters than in recent years. He said the cost had grown to nearly $190,000 before the city switched to the subscription-based Blue Cart Crew program beginning in April 2019.

Blue cart delivery (Source: City of St. Peters)

“Before the Blue Cart Crew program, Blue Bags were available to any St. Peters resident who requested them. However, many Blue Bags had been used for purposes other than recycling,” Crain said. “While the city handed out more and more Blue Bags, we did not see a correlating increase in curbside recycling.”

Blue Cart delivery (Source: City of St. Peters)

As of today, more than 11,000 households across St. Peters have enrolled in the Blue Cart Crew program. Of those, 10,500 are single-family households and another 670 live in apartments or condos. More than half of St. Peters’ single-family homes participate.

Blue Cart Crew container lid (Source: City of St. Peters)

When residents need a new roll of Blue Bags, Blue Cart Crew members tie a bag onto the trash cart handle as a signal to the driver.

St. Peters uses Blue Bags for an effective “dual-stream recycling” system that separates containers from paper items. Separating containers from paper makes St. Peters’ recycled items marketable because of a very low contamination rate.

Blue Carts at St. Peters’ Recycle City facility (Source: City of St. Peters)

The term “dual-stream” is used because both trash and recyclables are collected in the same cart and sorted later. This is different from single-stream recycling, which is when all recycled items are placed together in the same container. Single-stream recycling causes contamination due to the mingling of containers with paper.

“The lower cost for Blue Bags shows that the new Blue Cart Crew program is working as intended to reduce costs for recycling,” Crain said.

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