Glass bottles

Harry Funk / The Almanac

South Hills municipalities will no longer accept glass bottles for recycling in 2019.

Mt. Lebanon officials continue to pursue ways by which residents can continue to recycle glass after Jan. 1.

With the effective date of the municipality’s new five-year contract with Waste Management Inc., materials accepted for curbside recycling pickup no longer will include glass. Plastic products will be limited to items bearing a “1” or “2” symbol.

Municipal manager Keith McGill provided an update for Mt. Lebanon commissioners during their Dec. 11 discussion session, citing a variety of possibilities for the recycling of jars, bottles and the like.

He cited the possibility of participating in a program that Upper St. Clair resident John Despines has proposed to coordinate, by which glass would be accepted for collection once a month at the township’s community and recreation center.

“They’re still trying to get a lot of the logistical questions answered for that program, and I’m in contact with Upper St. Clair’s manager as that moves forward,” McGill said.

He and fellow municipal staff members also are communicating with other communities that are subject to the limitations on recyclable materials, which haulers attribute to changes in market conditions.

McGill said conversations are in progress with companies including CAP Glass of Connellsville and Dlubak Glass of Harrison Township, along with some firms that specialize in recycling:

• RoadRunner Recycling Inc. of Downtown Pittsburgh, which Allegheny County uses to pick up materials at their facilities.

“They are going to try to develop some possible options for us. That wouldn’t be curbside,” McGill explained. “It would be drop-offs, if we can do it.”

• Big’s Sanitation Inc. of Rostraver Township.

“They would drop off a 30-yard dumpster and periodically pick it up. The issue there,” McGill said, “runs into where do you place it and how do you control things other than clean glass getting into that dumpster.”

• Pennsylvania Resources Council in Pittsburgh’s South Side.

“They’re in the process of developing a proposal not only for the municipality but maybe on a larger, regional basis,” McGill told commissioners.

Another possibility exists.

“We were contacted by a manufacturer that would like to sell us a piece of equipment, a very expensive piece of equipment that would require a lot of space, and we’re just not sure what the market for the resulting ground-up glass would be.”

Also addressing commissioners at the discussion session was Erika Deyarmin-Young, public affairs coordinator for Waste Management Inc. in Western Pennsylvania.

“Glass, unfortunately, is a very low-quality commodity when it comes into our recycling facility through single-stream recycling,” she said, referring to the practice of not separating materials for collection.

“We have to run it through two additional processors to get it to the quality that end users prefer and desire,” she explained. “It’s a costly process. It runs very hard on our equipment, so it increases our maintenance costs.”

Waste Management plans continued public education with regard to materials that are acceptable for recycling, including a spot-check notification program.

“It will be done as a pilot, essentially, at the beginning, but we’re hoping to roll it out where our drivers or a third party that we work with will have tags that have a list of items,” Deyarmin-Young said. “We’ll leave a tag behind, mark on that tag what was contaminated in your material, and that tag on the back will include our new recycling rules and guidelines.

“We also are going to be tracking when we’re leaving the tags behind,” she added, “so then you can see repeat offenders.”

She complimented Mt. Lebanon’s public education efforts.

“We work with a lot of municipalities, and you have a great communications team to get the information out to your residents,” she said. “I think that will help you in terms of moving forward and making sure that you can get good-quality material at the curb.”

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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