Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Environment & Energy
Contact 90.5 WESA with a story idea or news tip:

4 Months After Proposed Start Date, Hazardous And E-Waste Recycling Still Delayed 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.

At the end of last year, the City of Pittsburgh announced that a hazardous and electronic waste recycling program would start for residents in January. But four months later, the program still hasn't begun.

Shawn Wigle, the city's acting superintendent for the Bureau of Environmental Services, said the issue is largely bureaucratic.

"It's just paperwork at this point that's been really delaying the process," Wigle explained. "Multiple people have to sign things and what not, and it's unfortunately taken a little bit longer than originally planned."

Justin Stockdale, the Pennsylvania Resource Council's western regional director, said he's not surprised there have been hiccups adhering to the short timeline announced at the end of last year.

"It's a process, it's a whole new program the city has never been involved with in the past in any formal way so yeah, it's going to take some time," Stockdale said.

It's more complicated to recycle electronics and hazardous waste compared to bottles and cans, said Stockdale. That's because there are state and federal regulations connected to the disposal of these materials.

The city's pending contract with Environmental Coordination Services and Recycling, Inc. will allow residents to make an appointment for home pickup of eligible items. People will also be able to drop off items 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, with a fee dependent on the type of waste. According to a city press release from December, the proposed price for disposing of most TVs and computers will be 40 cents per pound.

This is pretty standard, said Stockdale.

"When you recycle an aluminum can, the inherent value helps to pay the cost of collecting it, sorting it out from other materials, and then shipping it off to the aluminum mill to be used again as a raw material," Stockdale said. "There's not enough value in the elements that make up a TV to cover all the costs associated with collecting, hauling and dismantling it into all the different parts and pieces, because there might be 100 different materials in any one TV."

Wigle said despite the slow-going process, he's hopeful there will be a start date figured out by the beginning of May. However, he said there have been questions from residents about the status of the program.

"Everybody is certainly anxious to get started," he said. "I know a lot of folks, whether it's electronics or chemicals, we all tend to have some of these in the house that we need to properly dispose of."