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USC Recycling Changes: Frequently Asked Questions

USC Administration - Tuesday, November 13, 2018
USC Recycling Changes: Frequently Asked Questions

Why do Upper St. Clair residents need to make recycling changes?

The Township of Upper St. Clair, along with 18 other South Hills Council of Governments municipalities, bid jointly for waste hauling, including recycling. We received three bidders for the five-year contract, and all the bidders say they will no longer accept plastics #3-#7 or glass of any kind as part of the recycling collection.
 That is why Upper St. Clair, as well as other surrounding municipalities such as Bethel Park and Mt. Lebanon, are being forced to make these changes. 

For years we’ve been encouraged to recycle as much as possible and keep materials out of the landfill. Why recycle less now?

The recycling market has changed. Some materials that previously were recycled and turned into useful things are no longer of value in large quantities. In addition, contamination is a problem. Countries that buy our recyclables no longer accept loads containing contaminated material. Contaminated loads are turned away and often end up in landfills.

According to Waste Management, our recycling provider, recycling the right way as opposed to recycling more is beneficial because much of what we think is being recycled is going to the landfills anyway. 

What contaminates a load?

According to Waste Management, many people at this time do not recycle correctly. Some people put greasy pizza boxes or other dirty containers into the recycling bin. Some people will throw in Styrofoam, which is not part of our recycling collection. The biggest contaminant we’ve learned is glass, which can shatter into small shards and ruin an entire load. The shattered glass embeds into other recyclable materials like cardboards, making them unable to be recycled.

What items can we continue to recycle as usual?

Please continue to recycle:
-Aluminum, bi-metal, steel Cans
-Mixed paper (phone books, magazines, office paper, junk mail, cardboard, newspaper)
-#1 and #2 plastic bottles, jars, jugs

What items that we previously recycled are no longer acceptable?

No more:
-Glass of any type or color
-Plastics #3-#7. (As a rule of thumb, do not recycle any plastic material that is pliable enough to wrap around your thumb. You can often bring back your plastic grocery bags to the store’s recycling bin.)
-Shredded paper

What things have never been accepted for recycling?

Continue not to recycle:
-Styrofoam
-Food or liquid
-Pizza boxes
-Yard waste
-Electronics
-Household hazardous waste containers

What happens if we don’t recycle correctly?

Beginning in 2020, the Township will be charged $150 for every load the recycling plant deems contaminated. That is a potential penalty of more than $250,000 a year.

In 2019, Waste Management tells us they will start spot checking residential recycling bins. If the bins are clearly contaminated, they won’t take it for recycling.

Where can I find more information?

Visit recycleoftenrecycleright.com for more information. If you are looking to recycle an item that is no longer accepted in your curbside collection program, visit earth911.com.

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