Pittsburgh expands recycling program

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Pittsburgh is nearly finished expanding its recycling program from residential neighborhoods to the business districts.

The city's Department of Public Works has installed about 110 of the 130 blue recycling containers in business districts and expects to have the rest in place by the end of the month. The 4-foot-tall containers are attached about a foot above the ground on utility poles and have holes around the top to insert bottles and cans.

The city purchased the cans in 2010 for $151,000, including a state grant and $71,000 from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's Taking Care of Business program. Staffing and the purchase of special equipment to collect material from the cans delayed their installation, said Rob Kaczorowski, director of public works.

The first cans were installed on the North Shore last summer and since then they have been placed in business districts in East Liberty, Bloomfield, Mount Washington, South Side, Downtown, Lawrenceville, Oakland, Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. Most of the remaining cans will be placed in the Strip District by the end of the month.

"So far, it's been a success," Mr. Kaczorowski said. "For the most part, people are using them correctly [for recyclables and not general trash]."

The program is good for the city environmentally and financially, Mr. Kaczorowski said. In addition to reducing contributions to area landfills, the city is receiving about $27 a ton for recyclables instead of paying about that much to dump them.

"It's keeping the landfill cost down and the savings makes it well worth it," he said.

The program is run through the Bureau of Environmental Services, which hired two drivers for the special vehicles used to collect from the containers.

A news release from the mayor's office last month estimated overall from 2007 to 2012 the city collected 78,000 tons of recyclables, saving $1.9 million in landfill costs and generating $3.4 million in recycling revenue. Residential recycling participation increased from 49 percent in 2007 to 69 percent last year.

neigh_city - environment

Ed Blazina: eblazina@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1470.


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