- Scranton, PA approved an 18-month, $5,000 contract with recycling consultant Joyce Hatala Associates, to improve the city’s failing recycling program. The city’s goal is twofold: to increase commercial recycling to receive grant funding, and to increase residential curbside recycling and yard waste. Pennsylvania mandates the latter for commercial establishments, but many businesses are not recycling or reporting their figures, as reported in the Times-Tribune.
- The city will be sending letters to businesses and institutions, notifying them they are required to report. Those who fail to respond will be called and possibly receive visits.
- The municipality added a new DPW recycling coordinator position to its 2016 budget, and has also put more resources into leaf collection to divert this waste from the landfill, having delayed newspaper pickups twice to do so. The city may also consider a pay-as-you throw model to reduce landfill waste.
Scranton is pressed to find ways to decrease landfilling and increase recycling while working within its means, and saving taxpayers’ money.
Requiring businesses to report recycling to the city is apparently helping other Pennsylvania municipalities to achieve these goals, such as Allentown, who in 2011 was awarded a $264,539 performance grant from the DEP.
Scranton has faced challenges beyond getting businesses to report. In the past it has had to find ways to deal with millions in delinquent trash collection fees. And now, juggling with insufficient resources is at the top of the list.
"While amounts of materials put out for curbside recycling have grown greatly over the years, manpower hasn’t," said Ms. Joyce Hatala’s report.
To try and keep up, two years ago Scranton increased its annual trash collection fee 69%, from $178 per home to $300. The city council hopes the push to increase recycling will enable the city to cut the fee.
Meanwhile, they are investing where they feel is crucial, despite their taxed resources, and even when the effort may generate no grant. While household yard waste and leaves do not count for commercial performance grants, "[they] account for a significant amount of landfilled waste, nearly 20%" in Scranton, according to Ms. Hatala’s proposal, which suggested composting or mulching could save in disposal fees. And the coordinator position should help the bottom line too.
With this dedicated focus the city will "take a closer look at just how effectively you can provide the service and at what cost, and try to make recycling more effective," said Business Administrator David Bulzoni.