Wednesday is America Recycles Day, and the Pennsylvania Resources Council will offer a chance for residents to mark the occasion by learning important recycling information. It also will give the nonprofit a chance to look back on and celebrate successful projects it led in southwestern Pennsylvania in 2023.
PRC’s free webinar on that day will offer practical tips for residents to simplify their lives, according to a news release. Participants will learn about curbside collection, hard-to-recycle materials, household chemical and pharmaceutical disposal, as well as how to easily reduce the amount of waste they generate each day. Emily Stein, PRC’s environmental educator will lead the session. Then participants can ask Sarah Alessio Shea, PRC’s deputy director, additional questions during the Q&A session.
The webinar starts at 7 p.m. and is free, but registration is required by Tuesday.
Tuning in to that webinar is one of the easiest ways to learn more about recycling, according to Shea. “It’s a good overview of what you should be putting in your bin but also why it is important,” she said. The session will review the waste hierarchy — reduce, reuse and recycle — and much more.
A leading national nonprofit, Keep America Beautiful, coordinates America Recycles Day, a national initiative that began in 1994. It is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States, according to its website.
Shea said another way for residents to not only reinforce what they know about recycling but also learn more is to take the quiz KAB offers on its website. She has started training sessions with governmental bodies and other groups with that quiz.
And getting more people to recycle is critical, according to a PRC news release. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, each American produces approximately 4.4 pounds of waste every day. While much of this waste is recyclable in some way, typically only about 30% finds its way to the proper receptacle.
State law requires counties to offer recycling as part of their waste collection contracts, based on their population and density. The majority of Allegheny County municipalities are so mandated, 58 to be exact, Shea said, and “some others do it anyway.”
The contracts could differ, though, so the state Department of Environmental Protection offers a recycling hotline — 1-800-346-4242 — a number that answers weekdays from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. After-hours calls are answered the next day. Shea said residents can also call or email PRC directly, too. “PRC is here to answer questions about recycling from municipalities all across the state,” she said.
PRC also offers its own webinars each month. Residents can listen live or access past webinars recordings through its website.
Most of PRC’s collection events have ended for 2023, Shea said, and it’s been a good year for those efforts. “We are glad to have had the interest and participation through the general public, governments and private businesses,” she explained.
Prime among those efforts have been a successful and expanded glass recycling collection effort by a number of municipalities, spearheaded by Dormont’s leadership, who obtained a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection grant to defray its and other governments’ costs in that program. Some communities have permanent glass collection bins to drop off bottles, jars and jugs, and PRC has a traveling bin to offer communities for collection events. Michaels Brothers Hauling and Recycling also accepts glass items for recycling at its South Hills and North Hills locations, and then its trucks haul it all to CAP Glass in Mount Pleasant for processing.
“This year it was good to see glass recycling increase across the state,” Shea said, “as well as education about it. That for us was a big step in promoting the importance of glass recycling environmentally and its global impacts.”
A Posner Foundation grant also gave PRC an opportunity to closely look at food waste prevention and composting with participating municipalities and groups. The funds helped PRC prepare educational materials, in print and online, which is a huge help she said, and those provide a complement to the composting workshops it offers.
The free statewide Pennsylvania Resources Council recycling webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. Registration is required by Tuesday at https://prc.app.neoncrm.com/np/clients/prc/event.jsp?event=415&.