Santa Paula will belatedly join most of the state when it begins a curbside recycling program Monday.
"We are fairly late in the game compared to other cities," Public Works Director Norman S. Wilkinson said.
Under state law, cities must reduce by 25% the trash taken to landfills this year. Most cities started recycling programs in 1994 or earlier to comply with the law, which aims to cut the trash flow in half by 2000.
Wilkinson attributed Santa Paula's delay to a problem city officials faced: providing the service while keeping residential garbage fees in this community at $18.40 a month.
"We are starting simple," he said, adding that the city will not purchase any additional equipment such as recycling bins and modified collection trucks.
Instead, the city's 5,000 customers will be asked to place bottles and cans into separate plastic bags from the rest of their garbage on their normal trash day next week. Then, the following week, they will separate lawn trimmings the same way.
City workers will continue to collect the recyclables on this staggered schedule, Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson also said he expects a slow start because recycling containers will not be provided to remind customers to separate bottles and cans. "We may be less efficient in the beginning," he said. "We may not get the early participation."
He said providing separate containers for the recycled products would cost each customer about $100. Besides, Wilkinson said, the recycling industry is changing rapidly, and separate bins may not be needed as more recycling plants open and offer to accept all trash.
City officials plan to review the garbage collection fee in March.
"I don't anticipate any huge increases," Wilkinson said.
Santa Paula residents saw their water rates increase by 38% this year, while Southern California Edison raised its basic rate 6.4%.