Since June, when the rollout of residential recycling began in Columbus neighborhoods, more than 7,500 tons of recyclables have been collected.

Since June, when the rollout of residential recycling began in Columbus neighborhoods, more than 7,500 tons of recyclables have been collected.

And that was before the ecologically minded residents of Clintonville got in on the action.

The 7,500 tons easily eclipses the 4,000 tons of recyclables collected in all of 2011 under a paid subscription program, said Erin Miller, the city's environmental steward.

The fourth of five phases for the free recycling program began last Thursday, Dec. 6. That's basically along the North High Street corridor, stretching from downtown up through Clintonville.

The Rumpke trucks will return next Thursday, Dec. 20.

Recyclables will be collected every other Thursday, unless the schedule is delayed a day by a holiday, with yard waste picked up on opposite Thursdays for Clintonville residents.

Unlike yard waste, Miller emphasized, the large blue recycling bins -- which were dropped off in Clintonville neighborhoods before Thanksgiving Day -- should be placed where residential trash is picked up. That's in front of some homes but in the alleys for many more.

"I'm sure they've all been full for a while," Miller said of the blue bins taken in by Clintonville residents.

Those who chose not to participate in the program had only to leave them where they were dropped off; city crews should have picked them up for distribution to others who want to recycle, Miller said.

Based on the carts that have been taken back so far, Miller said the participation rate in the fourth-phase area is 95.26 percent. The rate in the previous three sectors of the city has ranged from 98.47 percent to 99.56 percent, she said.

"Overall, we've been extremely happy with the adoption rate for the carts," she added. "We were hoping for a 90 percent adoption rate. It just shows that the community wants it."

Miller encouraged recyclers to write their addresses on the label space provided atop the blue carts, to make sure crew members bring back the correct bins after a Thursday collection.

"Residential recycling protects the environment and makes Columbus a greener place to live and work," Public Service Director Mark Kelsey said in a reminder to residents of the fourth-phase area prior to the Dec. 6 collection. "It also creates jobs and saves the city millions in tipping fees."

"We have already saved the city over $400,000 in tipping fees, and with the inclusion of the Phase Four neighborhoods, we anticipate even more savings," Mayor Michael B. Coleman said in a statement.

"When fully implemented in February 2013, RecyColumbus will serve about 215,000 households," the announcement stated. "Columbus residents living in single-family homes or in a building with four units or less that is not part of a complex are eligible for this new convenient and easy-to-use city service."

"Mayor Coleman and City Council deserve all of the praise for taking this on,"Kelsey said. "I think it was just the right time. The residents definitely made this happen. It was their communicating to the mayor and city council that they wanted this.

"It all started lining up at the same time. We're thrilled that the residents are receiving it so well."

The fifth and final phase of citywide recycling pickup begins Feb. 1 in northeast Columbus neighborhoods.