NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- Since the new refuse and recycling program was initiated in Niagara Falls a year ago, city leaders say recycling has increased.

'Totes McGoats' is the new mascot for the Niagara Falls Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Team that will be visiting schools and encouraging local kids to recycle at home.

"With the new ordinance because there are a lot of questions, we thought can get to the kids in the home to get to their parents and continue the cycle of recycling for generations to come," said Brooke D'Angelo, program coordinator for Niagara Falls Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Team.

"I guess you would say Totes is a cute animal mascot, kind of scary actually. But having an animal mascot we think is one of the ways that you can reach out to kids and get their attention," said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.

Dyster said the city has seen success with the new refuse and recycling tote program that was first introduced a year ago, and he'd like to see it continue.

"We've had a dramatic increase in recycling in the city of Niagara Falls since the program was instituted. One of the reasons we institute the program is because we were in just about last place in our region," said Dyster.

Previously only 4 percent of residents in the city were recycling. Now that rate is up to 23 percent city-wide. Mayor Dyster says it's a testament to the success of the current program. Some residents say it could still be better.

"People that are not complying with it, homeowners or people that are renters, to that point that it should be, the code should be more enforced. They're not using their cans or properly disposing of it," said James Lawrence.

As a result of resident feedback, the current operation has been tweaked. A new bulk cleanup collection pilot program has been instituted for fall bulk pickup during the weeks of October 19 and 26, to give residents a chance to put up to six bulk items to the curb.

"We had heard from citizens that they felt like they didn't need a full five weeks of bulk pickup in the spring. The first couple weeks of the bulk pickup they felt the weather was usually pretty poor and made it difficult to get items out of the house and out to the curb," said Dyster.

A bulk leaf pick up will also begin on November 2, and there's plans underway for amnesty after the holidays, to give people a chance to get rid of holiday packaging.