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Legislation would modernize city's municipal waste and recycling code


Last updated 3/12/2019 at 10:01pm

Pittsburgh City Council, Councilperson Erika Strassburger has introduced an overhaul of the city’s municipal waste and recycling code in an effort to streamline and clarify the existing City Code.

The legislation codifies policies for the storage and set-out of waste and recycling containers, clarifies the responsibilities of tenants and landlords, and reinforces recycling is mandatory in the City of Pittsburgh. The legislation also adds clearer definitions to support best practices for residential composting.

“Pittsburgh’s municipal waste and recycling code has not been revamped in decades,” said Councilperson Strassburger. “This overhaul represents the first step toward bringing our waste and recycling program into the 21st century and creates a foundation that future waste and recycling initiatives can build upon. It promotes cleaner and more sustainable communities and works toward the City’s Zero Waste goal.”

Among other provisions, the legislation would:

• Reinforce recycling is mandatory in Pittsburgh

• Require that municipal waste and recycling is stored in durable, watertight containers with close-fitting lids

• Prohibit the storage of non-recyclable waste in blue bags or blue containers to prevent contamination of recyclable materials

• Require waste and recycling containers are set out no earlier than 6 p.m. the day prior to collection and removed from the curb no later than 7 p.m. on the day of collection

• Mandate landlords of properties with five or fewer units provide waste and recycling containers to tenants

• Set parameters for residential composting activity

• Increase participation in recycling by simplifying language in accordance with the city’s Plain Language Resolution; making requirements more accessible

“This legislation puts into law common sense policies and practices the Bureau of Environmental Services is already implementing, and sets the stage for more sweeping changes to our waste and recycling program in the future,” said Assistant Director of Public Works Bill Klimovich. 

Additionally, the Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Environmental Services is actively amending the Waste Regulations, which is a document outlining the bureau’s policies, to include the materials accepted for collection. Listing these materials in the Waste Regulations rather than City Code allows the bureau to adapt to quickly-changing markets for recyclable materials.

“My ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill altogether,” added Councilperson Strassburger. “This overhaul is an important first step toward achieving that goal.” 

The bureau will complete targeted outreach to landlords, residents, and business owners to help them better understand their responsibilities. A copy of the legislation can be found at


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