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Electronics, Paint Could Soon Be Recycled In Pittsburgh

Geert Vanden Wijngaert
In this photo taken on July 13, 2018, a worker handles components of electronic elements at the Out Of Use company warehouse in Beringen, Belgium.

Pittsburgh is moving forward with a contract to offer electronic and hazardous waste disposal for residents.

If the motion is approved by city council, residents will be able to make an appointment for either home pickup through the contractor, Environmental Coordination Services and Recycling, Inc., or drop off items, including televisions, at the company’s office in the Strip District. There will be a $50 fee for pickup, and residents will be charged per pound for processing. That fee will depend on the type of the waste.

Shawn Wigle with the city's Bureau of Environmental Services said he acknowledges that the fee seems high.

"Prior to this, there were not very many options for our residents," Wigle said. "If you could find a legitimate company to come and pick it up, you were going to pay a lot more than $50 for it."

On its website, the Department of Public works highlights some local businesses that accept electronic and hazardous waste, but notes not all locations accept all types of waste. Environmental Coordination Services and Recycling, Inc. will serve as a one-stop shop.

Councilor Theresa Kail-Smith has pushed strongly for electronics and hazardous waste recycling. She said these items gather on curbs and can be bad for the environment. 

"So if you have paint sitting around, chemicals sitting around, instead of dumping them on the hillside or down a sewer, you'll now have a place," she said.

Kail-Smith said she knows the price for processing and pickup might deter some residents from recycling these items, but, residents could be fined for throwing electronics and chemicals in the trash if the contract goes into effect. Kail-Smith said the city will look into ways to alleviate the costs to residents.

Councilor Darlene Harris expressed concern that the fees will encourage people to keep dumping their electronics and hazardous waste improperly, though she voted for preliminary approval of the contract. A final vote will take place at a later date.