The city of Pekin started its recycling program in 1995 by providing citizens with small red plastic bins to put the materials at the curb, but those will soon be a thing of the past.

The little red bins, now more than 20 years old, can still be seen at the curb with plastic bottles, cans and paper, which in a good wind blow all over the neighborhoods.

In 2013, the city bought 300 red-topped, wheeled recycle totes. Residents got one free on a first-come, first-serve basis. After that, residents could purchase the recycle totes.

Pekin Administrative Services Director Mark Rothert said the city wants to encourage people to recycle more and has named September and October Recycle Awareness months in the city. The city will use a two-pronged approach to help people with their recycling:

• Residents with red plastic bins will get a free 64-gallon tote starting on Sept. 11. The city will collect the red bins. Rothert said the new free tote is a “thank you” for long-time participants’ commitment to recycling. Notices will be left in the red bins next week to give those eligible a heads up.

“Now, that swap-out will take some time, but (Sept. 11 is) when we’re going to start,” said Rothert. “So it will take several weeks to complete just because there’s a lot of people and we have only a limited number of resources and staff to do that because they also have to pick up garbage and yard waste, too.”

• The 64-gallon roll out recycle carts will be available at a cost of $20 each during September and October for those who don’t currently recycle. The totes typically cost $40. The city will use social media and put a notice in the wastewater bills to remind residents. It will also be promoted through the new website, www.pekinrecycling.com. The resident can order their tote there. People who already have the recycle tote may purchase a second at the discounted rate as well.

On the day a resident is due to get the new tote, the city will collect the tote and the recyclables in it and replace it with the new tote.

Residents do not have to sort their recyclables anymore — everything can go in the tote that is acceptable at the recycling centers. The recyclables are collected on the same day a resident’s garbage is collected. The old bins will be recycled.

Rothert said the red bins can be heavy when filled with newspapers and workers can strain their backs. The totes roll on wheels and the garbage truck has an arm to lift them. The totes are easy for residents to wheel to the curb as well, said Rothert.

The city of Pekin has approximately 11,000 residential units that are charged for garbage service and only 60 percent of those recycle, said Rothert. Recycling in the city of Pekin is free. Materials that can be recycled at plastics #1-7, aluminum, bi-metal cans, soup cans, paper, newspapers, catalogs, books, phone books, broken down cardboard boxes and so on. Bi-metal cans are those made of two kinds of metal. Glass, plastic grocery bags, plastic wrap, plastic foam, motor oil, hazardous chemicals and electronics cannot be included in recycling in Pekin, said Rothert.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said Rothert, says recycling reduces waste sent to the landfills; the cost of tipping fees at the landfill, decreases the need to collect new raw materials to make new cans, plastic bottles, etc.; saves energy; reduces greenhouse emissions; sustains the environment for future generations; and creates jobs.

The city receives a grant from Tazewell County each year to help with recycling. This year’s grant was $67,000. A portion of that will be used for the recycling totes. The grant also helps with the fees to drop off materials at the recycler.

The city has 1,200 totes in stock and has ordered 700 more.

For more information or to register, call the Pekin Street Department at 477-2325 or go to www.pekinrecycling.com.

Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin