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Murrysville officials pleased with automated recycling system

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

Automated recycling is a hit in Murrysville.

The municipality automated its mandatory recycling program last month, requiring most residents to use a wheeled cart issued by Allied Waste. Officials say the program has been successful so far, with little problems.

“We keep hearing ‘I love my new cart, I love my new cart, I love my new cart,'” said Cherie Weber, the executive assistant who oversees the municipality's recycling effort. “It's going really well.”

It's going so well that, during the first three automated recycling pick-ups, the amount of material recycled by residents increased by an average of 82 percent, Weber said.

That's a similar result to a pilot program that took place in the spring. During the four-month program, the amount of recycling picked up from homes nearly doubled, from 12.2 pounds per home to 23.5 pounds per home.

Residents were able to choose between 38, 65 and 95-gallon carts in which to put all of their recyclables. The new carts must be wheeled to the curb with handles facing in with the lid closed, for hauler Allied Waste to pick them up.

While the program overall is going smoothly, some adjustments need to be made, Weber said.

For instance, residents can't place the carts directly next to a mailbox or other garbage receptacle. All recycling must be placed in the cart or it won't be taken, Weber said.

“The driver isn't going to get out,” Weber said. “The whole point is to have that automated arm clamp down on it. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose.”

Council President Joan Kearns suggested keeping the recycling carts at least four feet from any structure. Kearns said she has heard nothing but positive comments about the program, which began Oct. 22.

Weber said the 38- and 95-gallon carts have been most popular, but she expects that to change once residents are permitted to exchange their carts next year. Beginning Jan. 14, residents can call Allied Waste to change the size of their cart and the hauler will waive the $10 fee for the first exchange.

Weber said she hopes to see more changes come to the municipal recycling program. The municipality has applied for a state grant to buy a cardboard compactor that would be made available to all residents to crush cardboard. Corrugated cardboard takes up a lot of room in the bins because it must be cut down into flat pieces. The compactor would eliminate that problem, she said.

While some housing complexes have private garbage and recycling contracts and aren't participating in the program, Weber said she anticipates that the entire municipality will eventually convert to an automated program.

Chief administrator Jim Morrison said residents who participate in the “sticker” collection program – those who typically have garbage collection during only a portion of the year – were charged incorrectly for the new program. Instead, they were charged for a full year. Morrison said those residents should call Allied Waste for a refund.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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