Big blue recycling carts are on their way to alleys and garages around St. Paul.
Mayor Chris Coleman delivered the first bin Tuesday to a home just east of Snelling Avenue.
"This is the beginning, this is the official first cart to be rolled out," said Coleman, as he unloaded a recycling bin into an alley.
Over the next six weeks the city will distribute another 78,000 bins in one of the state's biggest recycling initiatives.
"St. Paul has always been a leader in recycling," said Coleman. "But we noticed over the years that our recycling rates were leveling off. And we want to make sure we're doing what we could to increase those recycling rates."
The carts look similar to garbage bins. They are covered and they have wheels.
They also offer significantly more recycling capacity than the current blue bins city residents use.
"I hate the little bins. We don't use those," said Sheila Sweeney, who's home on Fairmount Avenue got the first recycling cart — paid for by an annual property tax fee.
Sweeney's family members are dedicated recyclers, she said, but the city's current system hasn't made it easy.
The program uses small totes that residents usually carry to the front curb of their houses on recycling day.
"We've heard from the community that they're looking for something that's more convenient and they wanted to be able to recycle more materials easily," said Kris Hageman, recycling and solid waste program manager with the city's public works department.
Collection with the new 64-gallon carts will move to alleys starting in early 2017. Based on similar transitions to recycling carts in other cities, Hageman expects St. Paul residents to recycle more than ever.
"We're anticipating and hoping for about a 35 percent increase in materials collected and about a 15 percent increase in participation," she said.
The recycling rollout is part of a larger waste initiative in Minnesota's second-largest city: city officials expect garbage haulers to offer their initial proposal for so-called organized collection by the end of this year.
The City Council moved this summer to push haulers to come up with a system that will cut down the number of trash trucks moving through the city every day — although the city stopped short of a municipal takeover.
"We think the prospects [for an agreement] are good, but we're still working with Ramsey County and other partners to develop the infrastructure here in the county and in St. Paul to do that," said Ellen Biales, administrative programs manager for public works.
If a deal for organized trash collection is struck, Biales expects organic recycling to follow.
"We think the organics might fall in line more when we do the organized collection," she said, "because a lot of the methods available kind of coincide with trash collection."
The city's currently hoping to make both of those happen in mid-2018.