Environment

Pittsburgh Mayor: Let's Spend $500K on New Recycling Bins

Says bins will result in higher-quality recyclables, supporting city's ambitious goal of zero waste.


As Sparkt readers already know, there's a revolution happening in recycling. Here comes another change, this one specifically affecting people who live in the city of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is proposing spending a half-million dollars to give every city resident a blue plastic recycling bin, "seeking to improve the quality of recycling in Pittsburgh and to boost efforts to meet zero waste goals," according to a press release sent from his office.

Recyclers will no longer take contaminated recyclables.

The need to improve the quality of single-stream recycling (putting recyclables in one container) is a problem cities nationwide are facing. Recyclers no longer accept bales of plastics or paper contaminated by broken glass and other trash. And glass is gone or about to be gone from pretty much every single-stream program because once it's shattered in a bin or truck, it's useless for recycling.

PREVIOUS STORY Recycling Revolution: No More Glass in the Bin

Right now city residents put their recyclables in blue plastic bags at the curb. But even the bags contaminate and degrade the quality of recyclables, which reduces their value and increases costs for the city. The change to a central "bin" would solve that, and is part of a bigger campaign by the city to educate residents about what's accepted (plastic bottles) and what's not (clamshell fruit containers) in single stream recycling.

PREVIOUS STORY: Recycling Revolution: The Problem With Plastics

Blue bins, rather than blue bags, are seen as more effective in cutting down on recyclable contamination.

"As the recycling industry and our climate continue to change, Pittsburgh needs to keep adapting to a stronger culture of waste reduction and material reuse," said the mayor. "A strategic plan for purchasing and deploying blue recycling bins citywide will make that culture change more accessible, equitable and meaningful for all."

Cities nationwide are scrambling to respond to the sea-change in recycling.

If Pittsburgh council approves the $500K expenditure, the city will buy and start distributing the new bins beginning next year. The mayor is hoping collecting higher-quality recyclables will generate more revenue and help pay for the bins.

Got something to say? Click here to contact the mayor , and here to contact your city council member .

Click here for more how-to-recycle resources from the Pennsylvania Resources Council.

(Images: Pennsylvania Resources Council)

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