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PRC Wants Pittsburghers To Add Recycling To Their New Year’s Resolutions


Among those New Year’s goals of eating healthier, volunteering more or sticking to a new hobby, the Pennsylvania Resources Council also wants resolution makers to add one more thing: recycling.

Composting and recycling bottles, cans, paper and any potentially hazardous material are easy ways to get involved, said Justin Stockdale, the council's regional director.

The average American produces 4.4 pounds of waste each day, he said, citing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Credit U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Americans generated 254 million tons of municipal solid waste, or MSW, in 2013, the latest year in which data is available. Recycling rates for the same year hovered at around 34 percent for all materials nationwide.

  In 2013, the latest year in which data is available, about 53 percent of municipal solid waste like food, electronics and newspapers was dumped into the nation's landfills. While recycling and composting rates have improved over time — preventing 87.2 million tons of material from being disposed in 2013 compared to just 15 million tons in 1980 — Stockdale said more can be done.

“We’re not all going to build a bus line or a rapid transit system," he said. "We might not all be able to afford solar panels on our homes. But we can all do our part from a recycling standpoint.”

Recycling can also be a way to make a little extra money, Stockdale said.

"That aluminum scrap (or) in that old soda bottle ... that has real, cash value. There’s very little incentive to throw that in a landfill by anybody.”

The real goal for anyone in the recycling business, he said, is to get people thinking about their waste in a much more realistic and pragmatic way.

"And as you start to think about your waste in those ways, you start to avoid things. You start to avoid accumulating the waste in the first place,” he said.