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Penn Hills resident makes timely presentation on recycling

| Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Penn Hills Council renewed its trash collection contract with Arizona-based Republic Services through 2015, but resident Don Sanker urged leaders to encourage more residents to recycle sooner rather than later.

Sanker gave a presentation on recycling in Penn Hills, which, in his eyes, is rather dismal.

“In 2004, Penn Hills estimated that 7 percent of local residents were recycling, as opposed to 30 percent in other nearby communities,” Sanker said, quoting from a municipal document.

Sanker said by his estimation in driving around Penn Hills, it's “maybe 25 percent today, and that's probably high.”

Town officials estimate the rate to be nearly 28 percent of households, municipal Manager Moe Rayan said.

The municipality is working with Republic to move toward automated recycling within the next few years, “but we have to take baby steps to get toward the goal we want to achieve,” Rayan said.

Rayan estimated the cost of moving to fully automated recycling, with specially equipped trucks that empty bins, would be nearly $500,000.

“We're going to work with Republic on educating the public (about recycling) over the next two years, so we don't go out and spend half-a-million dollars and be in the same position we are now,” Rayan said.

In neighboring Plum, municipal officials are pleased with the move to automated recycling, which took place in October 2011.

“When we went to fully automated recycling and bid out a new contract, (the contract) required that the hauler supply the bins to residents,” Plum Assistant Manager Greg Bachy said.

“They've included that in their monthly cost to us. But our monthly cost for recyclables actually went down in the first year of the contract.”

He said the borough has held its trash costs to the same level for the past eight years.

Plum's contracted hauler also is Republic Services. Because that borough switched to automated recycling, the tonnage of recyclable material has nearly doubled, Bachy said.

“I would say most of our residents recycle,” he said.

“They may not put (the bin) out every week, but it takes a while to fill the containers we supply.”

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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