The city of Columbus now has a better idea where residents stand on the issue of recycling.

The city of Columbus now has a better idea where residents stand on the issue of recycling.

Results are in from a survey mailed to 1,200 homes this spring. Mailed to random households, the city collected 501 completed surveys, or 46 percent, said Rick Tilton, deputy director of public service.

The city separately posted the survey online and has received 3,900 responses so far, Tilton said. The deadline to respond is July 31.

Of the mailed-in survey's highlights, 56 percent of households said they recycled. Residents were given the choice of two 18-gallon bins or 35-, 65- or 90-gallon receptacles, the latter three having wheels. A majority of respondents, 73 percent, said they preferred larger wheeled carts because they would hold more than a week's worth of recycling.

When asked how frequently they would need their recyclables collected, 50 percent said every other week.

Residents also were asked about yard-waste collection.

As to the frequency of yard-waste pickup, the highest percentage of responses, 23 percent, said every other week was sufficient, 21 percent said seasonally every other week and 20 percent said every week. Since curbside recycling was reinstituted in the spring, 85 percent of residents said they intended to use it.

Of those surveys completed online, 78 percent said they currently recycle and 63 percent plan to use the current yard-waste service.

The survey did not ask about the frequency of trash pickup, which will remain on a once-a-week schedule. Some had suggested the city alternate trash pickup with recycling, something the administration doesn't currently support.

"That's not in the mix right now," Tilton said.

Mayor Michael B. Coleman hopes to have a recycling program in place by 2012 without raising fees or taxes. Currently, 12,000 people pay for curbside recycling.

Tilton said the two surveys, whose responses have not been combined, give a good indication of residents' attitudes toward recycling.

"I think it really reflects the message the mayor has been giving about the city being 'green,'" he said.

Some members of city council were expected to discuss the issue Wednesday night at City Hall. Public education will be a strong component to any recycling program, Tilton said.

"It's something everybody can do," he said.

The call for more recycling comes at a time when SWACO, the local solid waste authority, will consider rate increases. The SWACO board of trustees will meet Oct. 5 to decide a rate increase of $3 per ton for 2011 and an additional $3 increase for 2012. The increases, if approved, would amount to an additional 25 cents per month for the average Franklin County household, SWACO spokesman John Remy said.

Remy said the organization has made it easier for residents to recycle by increasing the number of drop-off centers throughout the city. Less waste going to the landfill means less of a cost for the city, he said.

"Columbus is our biggest customer," Remy said. "And they bring in one-third of everything that comes to our landfill annually. Part of our job is to promote diversion from landfills."

gseman@thisweeknews.com