Tube City Almanac

January 08, 2013

Stash That Trash: City Rolls Out New Recycling Plans

Category: News || By

(* Updated Jan. 9.)

Today was garbage day on Jenny Lind Street, and trash cans filled to overflowing were parked in front of several houses this morning. Cardboard boxes --- many probably left over from Christmas gifts --- were stuffed inside some trash cans.

City officials want to cut down on those overflowing garbage cans and route glass, metal, plastics, paper and cardboard into recycling bins instead --- both to trim McKeesport's trash-hauling bills and to bring the city into compliance with state and federal guidelines.

This month, McKeesport moved to so-called "single-stream" recycling, in which all items can be recycled in the same bins or bags, without separating cans from bottles. In addition, city residents may finally recycle most kinds of plastic, paper and cardboard.

"It's not only better for the environment, it's also going to save us on landfill costs when it comes to collecting garbage," Mayor Mike Cherepko says. Recycling collections, until now handled by the city's public works department, have been switched to McKeesport's contracted trash hauler, Nickolich Sanitation of Clairton.

The first recycling pickup under the new system was last week. The next pickup city-wide will be next week, Jan. 14 to 18. Recycling collection will continue every other week through the remainder of the year.

There are no more "yellow" and "green" collection days, and all recycling will be picked up city-wide on the designated weeks.* Calendars showing weeks when recycling is scheduled may be downloaded from the city's website.

Residents should put out their recycling during their regular trash collection day during the highlighted weeks, officials say. They can use their existing recycling bins or any large container clearly labeled "RECYCLING."

The two public-works employees who were assigned to collect recycling have been transferred into the street department, Cherepko says. "It's not saving us money necessarily, but it does increase our manpower in the street department at no additional cost to the budget," he says.

Items that can now be recycled include:

  • All forms of plastic, including milk jugs, pop bottles, shopping bags and laundry soap jugs

  • All forms of tin, steel and aluminum cans (cans should be rinsed first to discourage bugs and rodents)

  • Most forms of paper, including "junk mail," office paper, envelopes, newspapers, magazines, paperback books, phone books, catalogs and posters

  • Most kinds of cardboard, including manila folders, corrugated boxes and hard-cover books

  • Most kinds of glass containers, including clear and colored jars and bottles.

Items that cannot be recycled include food, carbon paper, wallpaper, tissue, napkins, light bulbs, ceramic, "Pyrex"-type dishes, window glass and wood. Also not recyclable are three-ring binders (though the paper inside may be recycled) and blueprint paper.

Items that cannot be recycled should be put into the trash, not the recycling bin. Paper plates, pizza boxes, food containers and other recyclables contaminated with food waste also should not be put into recycling bins, but into the regular trash instead.

City council has also given approval to a recycling center to open within McKeesport later this year. Recycling calendars are being mailed to all city residents, Cherepko says, and "a major campaign" to encourage recycling will begin in a few months.

In the past, poor compliance with recycling ordinances has been among the reasons cited for a 20 percent increase in the amount of trash collected in McKeesport in recent years, though some, including City Controller Ray Malinchak, have blamed other causes.

Questions about recycling may be addressed to Nickolich Sanitation at (412) 233-3569 or city hall at (412) 675-5020.

. . .

Recycling will be collected in McKeesport during the weeks of Jan. 14, Jan. 28, Feb. 11, Feb. 25, March 11, March 25, April 8, April 22, May 6, May 20, June 3, June 17, July 1, July 15, July 29, Aug. 12, Aug. 26, Sept. 9, Sept. 23, Oct. 7, Oct. 21, Nov. 4, Nov. 18, Dec. 2, Dec. 16 and Dec. 30.

* updated Jan. 9 to clarify that all recycling will be picked up in a single week.

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Your Comments are Welcome!

So let me get this straight: The way to avoid unsightly piled-up trash on collection day is to have the bulky paper, plastic and cardboard products (the items that make a pile of trash bulky to begin with) crammed into the (relatively small) recycling bins they give out and picked up every two weeks instead of every week?

Anyone else see that as a step backwards?

How many people will actually go out and buy multiple “large containers” just for this purpose? I know I will not.

A week’s worth of milk jugs and plastic bottles alone will fill the recycling bin.

Let’s not even talk about “keeping paper and cardboard clean and dry”. Yeah, good luck with that.

The Mayor can encourage recycling all he wants. If it isn’t easy and convenient enough for residents, most will not do it. And in the problem areas where people stack trash outside like pigs anyways? Won’t even make a dent.

If they want to do some real environmental good (rather than just trying to reduce the landfill costs) they should tell us how to easily recycle things like old tires and paint etc. Pittsburgh has a program in place for these items. Why don’t we?

Like many other things done in this city, it is a great idea, but less than stellar execution.

From the link in the article, it DOES appear that McKeesport no longer uses the “green” and “yellow” recycling schedules, instead using one schedule for all? That is an improvement at least. No more guessing which color we are and missing collections when we are wrong. At least that is an improvement.
Shadango - January 09, 2013

Yes, one schedule for all, city-wide. I should have made that clearer in the write-up, maybe.

As for the every-other-week … I live in a neighboring borough, and we also have every-other-week recycling pickup. I think that’s fairly standard.

Yes, the bins do fill up fast. The upside is that we have very little “trash” any more —- it takes us a year to use a box of trash bags. If we composted the food waste, we wouldn’t have any trash at all, some weeks.

I wish we had someplace to drop tires, paint, etc. I had a bunch of tires to get rid of, and had to pay a tire store to take them.
Webmaster - January 09, 2013

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