Pittsburgh-area apartment complexes typically “fall through regulatory cracks” when it comes to recycling programs, according to Mary Kate Ranii, program and outreach coordinator for the Pennsylvania Resources Council.
Because of their ineffectiveness, the PRC began a recycling program in January of this year that aims to provide education and resources to influence residents in local apartment complexes to better their recycling habits.
This Wednesday, the PRC is launching the program in its eighth building, Highland Plaza in Shadyside. Residents will assemble for an introductory presentation on the recycling system, and new collection bins, as well as signage and educational materials, will be installed throughout the building.
Mary Kate Ranii, Program and Outreach Coordinator for the PRC, said multi-family buildings, such as apartment complexes, often have ineffective recycling programs, if any at all. They found that there were high levels of “contamination” – unrecyclables mixed with recyclables – within these buildings.
“We found this demand so that these individuals could make an impact and we could greatly increase our recycling numbers by making sure that everyone is able to participate in recycling in the greater Pittsburgh area,” says Ranii.
The PRC has implemented the program in seven buildings so far, which are a mix of senior housing, student housing, subsidized units, and traditional apartments. The goal, after installing new bins and implementing educational resources, is to divert more than 750,000 pounds of recyclables per year in these seven buildings. The program is still new, but initial monitoring from the PRC shows that there is a visible increase in the amount that residents recycle.
Mackey Lofts is affordable housing in Uptown, created by ACTION Housing in 2013 that implemented the PRC’s program a few months ago. Andrew Shull, the communications officer for ACTION Housing, said that before the PRC’s program, they had a limited recycling system with only a few bins in the back of the building. Now, it’s become much more convenient for residents.
“Now we have recycling bins on every floor and shared spaces, and we’re able to provide, with the PRC program, recycling bins for most of the residents in their apartments,” says Shull.
Buildings interested in the PRC’s program must be located in the greater Pittsburgh area.