Blue Bin Program Aims to Make Recycling Easier

The City of Pittsburgh has recently wrapped a program to distribute 100,000+ blue recycling bins to residents and become bag free curbside by 2023. The goal is to make recycling easier for residents and reduce recycling contamination. Each residence serviced by the Bureau of Environmental Services received a 32-gallon blue recycling bin with a tight-fitting lid attached and an information packet. All recycling bins were manufactured in Pennsylvania by The Rehrig-Pacific Company.

Please keep in mind this effort was a one-time initiative with enough resources only to distribute one blue bin per household that Environmental Services collects recyclables from. If more than one bin is needed or the original bin was not kept with the address, residents are required to supply their own blue bin, clearly marked for recycling and not in excess of 35 gallons. 

If you believe you were eligible for a bin but missed, please put in a 311 ticket. 


Bag Free in 2024

The City of Pittsburgh has made a significant shift away from a bag-based collection program. While the blue plastic bag has long been a part of the Pittsburgh recycling collection system, Environmental Services stopped accepting recycing in plastic bags in 2024. Plastic bags degrade recycling by slowing operations and making the materials tough to sort when delivered to the MRF.


Recycling Contamination, and Why It Matters?

One of the biggest challenges facing recycling right now is contamination by wishful recycling or “wish-cycling”. This happens when non-recyclable objects are placed in the recycling bin with the wish it will be recycled. Additionally, recycling contamination occurs when food residue, liquids, and unacceptable materials (such as batteries, sharps, extra plastic bags, food waste, and greasy pizza boxes), are placed into the recycling can. Contaminants not only degrade the materials, boosting costs, but they can potentially cause harm to the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) and city employees.