Mayor proposes expanded use of recycling bins
July 2, 2019
Seeking to improve the quality of recycling in Pittsburgh and to boost efforts to meet zero waste goals, Mayor William Peduto has announced plans to provide thousands more blue recycling bins to city residents in coming years.
Recycling has been mandatory in Pittsburgh since 1991 and residents have long placed their recyclables in blue plastic bags. Unfortunately, such bags clog equipment at recycling facilities, create roadside blight, and degrade the quality of recyclables (which reduces their value and increases costs for the city).
Blue containers under 35 gallons in size consolidate recycling into one container, making them more convenient for residents and the refuse workers who empty them.
Recycling bins are more than tools needed to easily participate in the city's recycling program; they are invitations to join the city in its ambitious zero waste goals.
"As the recycling industry and our climate continue to change, Pittsburgh needs to keep adapting to a stronger culture of waste reduction and material reuse. A strategic plan for purchasing and deploying blue recycling bins citywide will make that culture change more accessible, equitable and meaningful for all," Mayor Peduto said.
The mayor is proposing adding $500,000 to the city's 2020 budget to begin buying more bins for residents, followed by additional monies in future years to expand the usage of the bins citywide.
The funding would be subject to approval by Pittsburgh City Council.
Distribution plans for the bins have not yet been finalized. Residents will be alerted when new bins are available, likely beginning next year. Residents may also buy their own blue bins for usage at any time.
Earlier this year City Council approved improvements to ordinances around waste and recycling forwarded by Councilperson Erika Strassburger, which included language on the blue bins.
Mayor Peduto is proposing phasing-in purchases of the bins over coming years, possibly with the assistance of grants and nonprofit support.
By delivering higher-quality recyclables the bins could generate more revenue for the city and other efficiencies for the Environmental Services bureau, which would offset bin costs. The city is launching a recycling education program to further improve the quality of recyclable materials, and decrease other waste sent to landfills.