Recycling Changes Begin January 1, 2019

With each new year comes change, and 2019 is no exception. On January 1, 2019, big changes are coming to the curbside recycling program, not only in Upper St. Clair, but throughout the region and the entire country. Beginning in January, fewer items will be accepted for recycling.

Why the changes?

Recently, the recycling industry has been faced with a number of challenges. Early in 2018, China announced that it would ban 24 items from being imported as recyclables, including mixed plastics. In addition to the materials ban, new contamination requirements were also announced, which require recyclers to produce material with less than 0.5% contamination.

Contamination occurs when items that don’t belong in the recycling bin are placed there. Once the residue ends up in recyclables, it has the potential to turn the entire load into trash and increase processing costs. With contamination of curbside recycling material currently at 25–30%, Waste Management, our Township’s recycling servicer, is focused on eliminating residue before it reaches the recycling facility.

Beginning January 1, 2019, Waste Management will begin to spot check recycling bins at the curb. If a bin is considered heavily contaminated, it will be left behind as trash.

How can I make sure I am recycling good, quality material?

The best materials to recycle are plastic bottles, jugs, and jars; aluminum, bi-metal, and steel cans; paper; and cardboard. If you are unsure about an item, it should be thrown out as trash. Make sure all material is placed loose in your recycling bin (not bagged).

When in doubt, throw it out!

Do not contaminate recyclable material by placing garbage items in your recycling bins. While you may think you are doing a good thing by recycling certain materials previously accepted as recyclable, not abiding by the new, more limited recycling list will contaminate the entire recycle bin, resulting in avoidable, higher program costs.

So remember, if you’re not sure whether an item should be recycled, please throw it in the trash. While this may initially sound counter-intuitive, it is better to have a smaller collection of acceptable recyclables than to have non-accepted items in a recycle bin that will cause the entire load to go to trash.

What else should I know?

Beginning April 1, 2019, the Township of Upper St. Clair will begin automation of garbage (trash) collection. Delivered to each resident will be a large-sized Township-issued garbage bin. Look for further details in the Township-issued recycle/refuse brochure due out later this year, the spring issue of TODAY that comes out in March, and on the Township website at, and other Township-related social media. Stay tuned!

To dispose of an item that is no longer acceptable as part of the curbside collection program, visit or for more information. Based on market conditions, the list of recyclables can change at any time.

15241 TODAY logo.png