Edgeworth addresses recycling changes

Monday, January 6, 2020 | 12:01 AM

Residents should think twice about what they put in their curbside recycling bins.

Starting Jan. 1, Waste Management no longer accepts glass in single-stream, curbside recycling for all municipalities in the Quaker Valley Council of Governments (QVCOG). Waste Management has also decided not to collect certain types of plastic.

“We are working with communities across the region to update recycling guidelines to help eliminate contamination and allow us to get good, quality recyclables to end users,” said Erika Deyarmin-Young, Waste Management public affairs coordinator for Western Pennsylvania, in an email.

“Glass collected through the single-stream recycling collection process is heavily contaminated. In addition, during transportation and sorting, broken glass can contaminate other commodities such as paper and cardboard,” she added.

Sorting glass has become a negative cost for recycling companies, according to Pennsylvania Resources Council Managing Director Justin Stockdale.

“They have elected to no longer incur that cost, and how they achieve it is by banning glass from their curbside programs,” he said.

Stockdale also addressed a common myth about the market for recyclables, saying the glass collection changes have nothing to do with China changing recycling rules. He said there is domestic demand for glass, with the tri-state region that encompasses Western Pennsylvania boasting one of the strongest markets in the nation.

Although glass has value, Stockdale said recyclers have made a bottom-line decision that will affect users of their programs.

“In addition to the removal of glass, we will also only be collecting plastic bottles, jugs and jars labeled as a No. 1 or No. 2 plastic,” Deyarmin-Young said.

But in contrast to glass, Stockdale said recyclers have struggled to find end uses for many types of plastic. Domestic markets exist for the specific grade of plastic used in bottles, jugs and jars, he said.

Stockdale added that plastic bags are no longer allowed in recycling bins, and recycling companies have started assessing fines for plastic bags elsewhere in the region.

Edgeworth Borough, in particular, has taken an initiative to educate residents about the recycling changes.

“A lot of residents have called about what to do with glass and what to do in general with the new rules,” said Ellen DeWeese, administrative assistant for Edgeworth.

From 7 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 15, the borough will host an information session on recycling at Edgeworth Elementary School. Representatives from Pennsylvania Resources Council and Waste Management are scheduled to present.

To facilitate glass recycling, the borough will have a glass-only dumpster at its recycling center next year.

“It will be there for three months initially, then if everything is successful we’ll have it there indefinitely,” DeWeese said.

Separate collection sites like these could become the primary way for residents to recycle glass.

Pennsylvania Resources Council held almost 30 pop-up collection events in 2019. Stockdale said his organization hopes to expand on this in 2020 and bring dozens of glass collection sites to the region.

“The new reality is if you want to recycle glass, you’re going to have to take it to some specific collection site,” Stockdale said. “The odds of it being picked up curbside are pretty slim.”