Communities Dealing with Rejected Recyclables

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Folks who live in Scranton may be scratching their heads wondering why their recycling bin was passed over for pickup.

If you live in Scranton, DPW workers are looking inside your recycling bin before they empty it into the back of a truck.

Based on what's inside, they might leave your recyclables on the curb.

DPW workers have been selective this week when picking up recycling because of a change that's affecting most of the municipalities in Lackawanna County.

It's trash day in Scranton's north end and in the Green Ridge neighborhood, but you wouldn't know. While the trash cans are empty, we found many recycling bins still filled to the top.

Peter Shorten's on Wyoming Avenue was one of them.

"I thought maybe they hadn't gotten here yet, so that's why I opened the bag so they would see there was cans in it. I saw my neighbor's recycling unit with bags in it. Sometimes they interpret that as garbage. They won't take it, but evidently, they just aren't going to pick it up if you put it in a bag," Shorten said.

Scranton's DPW will no longer pick up bins that have problematic items inside.

The city's recycling coordinator says the biggest problem they're seeing is people putting their recyclables inside a plastic bag. None of it can be recycled.

"Plastic bags are the big thing that we want to tell the public about. Do not put the comingle in the bags and put the bags in the blue bin. It's not going to work, it doesn't work. Then we put the bag in the truck, and we get there and it doesn't work," explained Scranton recycling coordinator Tom Lynch.

Scranton's changing its pickup procedure because of changes at the Lackawanna County Recycling Center. The center now rejects trucks with contaminated loads. On Wednesday, Scranton's truck was accepted, but on Monday, officials say four truckloads were turned away.

That could cost the city more money. If those trucks are taken to a landfill instead, it also could delay pickup in your neighborhood.

"That backs up the truck the next day and the next day, and so on and so forth, because now we don't have a truck, so we've got to get that emptied some other way, and that just takes up time," Lynch said.

The changes at the Lackawanna County Recycling Center affect many of the municipalities in Lackawanna County, not just Scranton, so recycling officials encourage people to contact their own municipality to see what can be recycled and what can't.

4 comments

  • savescrantonhistory

    With Scranton charging $300 per household whether you put out one tiny kitchen sized bag a week or a half ton of junk like some of my neighbors they better take my recycling. Most of the neighbors who put out 2-3 or more cans with 2-3 50 gallon bags in each sometimes put out exactly ZERO recyclables. Gee. I wonder where all their cans, bottles and such end up? The city is just lucky I don’t have a truck or I’d have started picking up OTHER people’s trash to make sure I fully use that $300 a year fee.

    • William Neville

      Just not put garbage into the recycling bins, such as cheese encrusted pizza boxes. These can’t magically be recycled, so throw them into the trash.

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