What can be recycled and where does it go?
According to ACT 101 (Pennsylvania’s Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling, and Waste Reduction Act) all PA municipalities with more than 5,000 residents and more than 300 persons per square mile are required to make available curbside recycling service with leaf waste collection. These mandated municipalities can provide service through a hauler contract with the municipality, or through private subscription…which means every municipality in Westmoreland County can have a different recycling program. If you are confused as to what can be recycled within you municipality please check our Recycling Guide, email us or call us at 724-879-4020.
The majority of Westmoreland County curbside programs in which the municipality contracts with a specific hauler are single stream recycling programs. With Single Stream Recycling, it is no longer necessary to sort recyclables into a variety of bins. With this program ALL recyclables (plastics, glass, paper, cardboard, cartons) are combined into one recycling container.
As this program saves the homeowner both time and space, the program is easier to participate in than prior recycling programs. Due to the ease of this program, the solid waste industry believes more residents will recycle and more recyclables will be diverted from the landfills. According to Waste Management, single stream programs recycle on average 30% more recyclables than other recycling programs.
Materials that can be co-mingled with single-stream recycling include:
- Fiber, which includes newspaper, office paper and cardboard
- Plastic (#1-5, #7)
- Tin/Metal (bi-metal)
Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)
All municipal recyclables, whether collected curbside or drop-off, are ultimately transported to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) for sorting. In Westmoreland County, recyclables are transported to Waste Management Recycle America, located on Neville Island, and formerly known as Greenstar, or to other MRFs in the area. These facilities process more than 10,000 tons of recyclables each month.
Long gone are the days when recycling needed to be manually sorted before sending it off to the appropriate facility. In a state of the art MRF, Single Stream Recycling is possible through advancements in technology; materials are processed and sorted using technology such as magnets, screens and optical scanners.
View a high-resolution diagram of the inner workings of an MRF (image shared with permission from Waste Management).
Note: The aforementioned image is just one example. Depending on the location and the needs of the community, every MFR will have variations.
Cartons can now be recycled as part of most single stream programs. Cartons refer to aseptic containers, made from recyclable multi-layer plastic (polyethylene), paper and metal packaging that usually contain liquids such as milk, broth, soy milk, and juices. These containers can be found either on shelves or in the chilled areas of a grocery store.
Diagram used with permission from the Carton Council
Carton recycling is on a roll!
More and more U.S. households are gaining access to carton recycling all the time, including most households in Westmoreland County.
For more information on carton recycling, visit the Carton Council. Contact Westmoreland Cleanways via email or call us at 724-879-4020 with questions pertaining to recycling cartons in Westmoreland County.
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