Sunday, December 08, 2019

The recycling market is changing. Brentwood Borough requests the aid of every household in meeting forthcoming stringent new requirements. For the last forty years, Americans have been encouraged to maximize the number of items that they place into the recycling bin so as to halt the growth of hazardous landfills. Indeed, since 1989, the majority of Pennsylvania municipalities have been required by statute to operate a recycling program. Mirroring national trends, our state's recycling rate has risen exponentially, as nearly 25 times as many goods are processed today than when the policy was implemented.  Although companies that trade in metal products have responded by increasing capacity, limited opportunities for profits have stunted domestic growth in the infrastructure that is necessary to process consumer recyclables. Historically, glass, plastics, and similar items have been exported to China. However, in 2017, this country banned the import of many of these materials. While, for the moment, recyclables are instead being directed to places like Thailand and Vietnam, facilities in these countries are rapidly approaching their limits.

Why should political and economic decisions in faraway lands matter to our residents? Officials in East Asian nations have started to reject shipments that are comprised of more than 0.5% of non-recyclable materials. If just one out of every 200 items that our residents place in the recycling bin fails to meet the criteria, then the load will be sent back to America, where good intentions will be unceremoniously dumped in the landfill. As you can imagine, there are enormous costs associated with hauling a product halfway around the world only to be unable to unload it at its intended destination. Consequently, municipal waste vendors are planning to pass this expense on to the customers. Beginning in 2020, the Borough will be fined $150 for each container of waste that is deemed to contain more than the permitted amount of non-recyclable materials. For a community of our size, the annual penalty could amount to a staggering $75,000, which could only be recovered through an increase in the per-household billing rate.

Old recycling habits will die hard. Residents are asked to use 2019 to make simple, money-saving changes. By adhering to the chart below, you can concurrently protect our planet and our municipal budget.

 

Items that were recyclable in 2018 and will remain recyclable in 2019:
  • aluminum cans
  • aluminum foil,
  • corrugated carboard
  • newspapers & magazines
  • office paper
  • paperboard (such as cereal boxes)
  • poly-coated paperboard (such as paper milk cartons)
  • steel and tin food cans paperboard
  • #1 plastics (such as water, juice, salad dressing, and household cleaner containers)
  • #2 plastics (such milk, laundry detergent, and shampoo containers).
Prior to disposal, please be certain to remove lids and to rinse the container so that it is free of any food or chemical waste. If a plastic item is not conspicuously labeled with a #1 or #2, do not place in the recycling bin.
Items that were recyclable in 2018 that ARE NOT recyclable in 2019:
  • ALL types of glass
  • #3 plastics (such as kitchen plastic wrap, plumbing products, most children's toys, and the exterior packaging on most consumer goods)
  • #4 plastics (such as grocery bags, squeezable food containers, and garment bags)
  • #5 plastics (such as yogurt containers, butter containers, snack food bags, plastic cups, and straws)
  • #6 plastics (such as egg cartons, plastic utensils, and most takeout food containers)
  • #7 plastics (such as reusable water bottles, CD cases, and electrical components)
Commonly recycled items that have NEVER been recyclable
  • ceramics
  • diapers
  • foam packaging
  • heat-resistant glass (e.g. Pyrex)
  • paper towels
  • pizza boxes
  • shredded paper
  • window glass
Items that can only be recycled by specialized vendors and CANNOT be placed at the curb:
  • air conditioners
  • batteries
  • electronics
  • light bulbs
  • small kitchen appliances
  • tires

Residents can continue to recycle certain goods at outside locations. Options include the following:

  • The Pennsylvania Resource Council holds several collection events for hard-to-recycle items. Computers, cell phones, cameras, DVD players, stereos, microwaves, video game consoles, foam packaging, and CFL light bulbs can be dropped off at no cost. Televisions, computer monitors, printers, tires, batteries, and air conditioners are collected for a fee. One such event typically takes place at Century III Mall in West Mifflin during the late summer or early fall.
  • This Pennsylvania Resource Council also sponsors a seperate series of events for the collection of household hazardous wastes. Aerosol cans, automotive fluids, cleaners, paints, pesticides, and pool chemicals can be disposed at a cost of $3 per gallon. A date is usually scheduled for South Park during the fall.
  • Unused over-the-counter and prescription drugs can be placed in a secured bin in the lobby of the Municipal Building during regular business hours.
  • Most #3 plastics are unfortunately designed for a single use. However, reclamation is possible with the right technology. The Vinyl Institute provides a list of firms that accept materials for processing.
  • Although #4 bottles can rarely be recycled, a number of retailers sponsor the processing of plastic bags. Locally, the public can dispose of these items in designated containers at Giant Eagle, Lowe's, Walmart, and Kohl's stores.
  • Preserve Products allows individuals to mail certain #5 plastics to its processing center in New York as part of its "Gimme Five" program.
  • The EPS Alliance, a trade group for packaging producers collects certain #6 plastics. Non-food containers can be dropped off at Appliance Warehouse in Lawrenceville, while food containers can be mailed to a facility in Ohio.