7 Ways the City of Pittsburgh ‘Can’ Promote Use of Recycling Bins

The City of Pittsburgh is asking residents to stop using blue plastic bags for recycling and instead use blue bins or cans.

It’s time to stop using blue Giant Eagle grocery bags to hold recyclables.

Despite the longtime curbside tradition, using blue bags actually harms Pittsburgh’s recycling program. According to Pennsylvania Resources Council western regional director Justin Stockdale, plastic bags interfere with the material’s sorting and makes the sorting machine less effective.

Ledcat and I have been using bins for about a year. We had just one for about ten months and now have two which we store on the back porch.

We’ve always been big on recycling, but it was admittedly a PITA to store everything in the house for two weeks. We used a kitchen trash can lined with a blue bag and piled all the excess into the corners of the stairwell. The cans made a big difference because now we literally just put the items into the bins as we use them. It saves so much time, frees up space and is just wonderful.

No more cramming large awkward plastic containers into grocery bags. No more tying 7 or 8 individual grocery bags together on the curb so they aren’t carried away by the wind. No more chasing the recycling down the street when the wind gets it anyway.

Unfortunately, the City doesn’t have resources to provide free bins to everyone. You can us your own blue bin which are available at places like Home Depot, Lowes, etc. You can paint any trash can blue and just stencil the recycling logo or write “Recycling” on it.

  1. Ask the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins to chip in for customized ‘fan cans’ – you could literally incorporate their logos into the recycling emblem on the cans and the lids. $1 million from each team would buy a can for every household in the City.
  2. Then, produce more of those cans with a slightly different emblem to sell to people who live outside of the City, but want to recycle while showing their steeltown pride. The proceeds generated could go to the Pennsylvania Resources Council.
  3. Team up with local street artists (Baron Batch, Jason Sauer, etc) to offer a custom recycling bin painting opportunity. For a donation, people can get a blue recycling bin with a customized bit of art. Again, proceeds can go to the Pennsylvania Resources Council. Or even use this to recycle existing cans. Or sell the art cans and use the proceeds to help.
  4. Actually require landlords to provide cans. Partner with the realtors association on this one. Create incentives for landlords to do this. (I can attest that the people who NEVER recycle on our block are tenants in pricey rental housing.)
  5. Create a program where folks can donate a recycling can to families who need them. Like an Amazon shopping list, only send the donated cans to the family support centers and build into the donation the costs to transport to the families actual homes.
  6. When someone is fined for not recycling, use that money to buy cans for low-income City residents. When someone is fined for littering, same thing.
  7. Going back to Item 1, add in the incentive of random free ticket drawings when people actually use the City of Champion bins. Get players in small groups to drive around the neighborhoods on recycling day and bring tickets, shirts, etc to people who have the cans at the curb. Bring the media. Make it a monthly or EOM thing.

I hope to see more folks using the cans because it really does matter that we strengthen the consumer end of environmental issues. Our goal is one trash bag a week plus cat litter and we rarely exceed it.

Recycling bins in Manchester





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