Penn Hills residents warned to avoid contaminating recyclables |
Penn Hills

Penn Hills residents warned to avoid contaminating recyclables

Dillon Carr
A recycling bin inscribed with "Recycling Works" sits near the curb in a Penn Hills neighborhood.

Penn Hills’ contracted waste service company is cracking down on contaminated recyclables.

Republic Services sent a letter to the municipality saying it will be paying close attention to what residents are putting in their bins.

“Residents may have service delayed or not occur if unacceptable levels of contamination are inside the recycling container,” said the letter.

Republic’s letter said even one contaminated item — such as grease found on pizza boxes or shattered glass — can come into contact with others, rendering the entire bin of recyclables unusable.

“The answer for residents may be that if you have doubts about what you are putting into a recycling bin, you may want to just put it into a garbage can instead,” Penn Hills Manager Scott Andrejchak said.

The move comes after Republic said in January it no longer will pick up certain plastics, metals and glass. Republic still will pick up plastics No. 1 and 2, cardboard, papers, aluminum and steel cans, among other items.

Republic has said the changes are because China, one of the U.S.’s largest exporters of recyclables, tightened rules on what it would accept.

Instead of picking up recyclables it determines are contaminated, the company will leave the bin behind and tag it with instructions on how to properly recycle.

The changes will be coming “in the near future,” said the announcement.

“Republic is developing improved recycling education programs that help to change recycling behaviors at home and at business in order to preserve these recycling programs,” said the letter.

John McGoran, Republic’s manager of municipal services, was not immediately available to comment.

Republic’s $10.4 million price tag for services in Penn Hills through 2021 reflects a 43 percent increase from the municipality’s previous three-year deal with the company. Andrejchak partly blamed the rate hike for what eventually led council to raise 2019 property taxes.

“If Penn Hills had a preference, it would not have the higher costs and stricter rules associated with recycling,” he said. “Something that may have been acceptable in a recycling bin in the past is an issue now because of the economics of recycling.”

Faith Milazzo, founder of Penn Hills Anti-Litter Group, said she is saddened to know more items ultimately will end up in a landfill.

But “it is better than a resident tossing in something that can’t be recycled or something that is dirty,” she said in an email, citing examples such as plastic toys or wet newspapers that sat out in the rain.

Milazzo said she’s already heard of people giving up on recycling because the process has become too cumbersome.

“Of course, I would prefer that residents take the time to put the correct, clean, dry items in rather than just ‘giving up,’ ” Milazzo said. “Hopefully, this will ultimately result in more things getting recycled, because I am guessing so many things were not before because they were contaminated.”

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Penn Hills
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.