Bethel Park Council approved a new garbage collection contract, which will bring significant changes to the way garbage and recycling materials are collected in the municipality.
The municipality’s new waste hauler will change from Republic Services to Waste Management.
Starting next year, Bethel Park will switch to an automated system for trash collection. All residents will be given garbage bins that they will roll out to the street. Garbage trucks equipped with mechanical arms will then pick up the bin and empty its contents into the truck. The change will require fewer workers and will result in a cost savings for the municipality.
Council President Tim Moury said Bethel Park will save about $325,000 over the course of the five-year contract. However, the municipality will have some upfront costs to purchase the bins, which are estimated at $725,000.
Residents will probably see the biggest change in recycling. Glass and some types of plastic will no longer be accepted. The change is necessary because of changes in the worldwide market for recyclable materials. The materials used to be shipped to China and elsewhere in Asia, but China has now enacted stricter rules on what materials it will take. Materials are rejected if they are contaminated with food or broken glass and it will no longer take certain plastics.
Local municipalities will start getting penalized for contaminated recycling materials starting in 2020, so municipal officials will have to educate residents about the new rules to encourage them to recycle the right way.
Bethel Park residents can continue to recycle paper, cardboard, aluminum, tin and No. 1 and 2 plastics, but glass and No. 3-7 plastics should not be placed in the recycling bins starting in January.
The contract will run from 2019 through 2023 and Bethel Park will pay $11.6 million over the course of those five years. South Hills Area Council of Governments, which represents 18 municipalities in the South Hills, negotiated the contract, but individual municipalities decided which options they needed.
In another matter, Bethel Park continues to clean up from the latest floods, which started in the area Sept. 8. The latest rains were not nearly as problematic as the flash flooding that occurred in June, but the fire department reported that fire fighters responded to nearly 30 calls over three days. Some of the calls involved traffic control to direct cars away from flooded streets and power outage related calls, such as rescues from stuck elevators.
So far this year, the municipality has spent over $400,000 on repairs to roads, storm sewers and other infrastructure. The projected total cost for repairs is estimated at over $850,000.