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TIMES-SHAMROCK FILE PHOTO Piles of cardboard and other paper products are unloaded at the Lackawanna County Recycling Center in Scranton.

Recycling is becoming problematic in Greater Pittston and area residents are urged to do their part to keep recycling programs viable in their communities

As of last year, several Greater Pittston communities adapted single-stream recycling to help eliminate waste and make recycling easier for residents. Through single-stream recycling, residents can throw most of their waste items into one bin, and the recycling is then separated at the recycling facility.

However, Beth DeNardi, recycling coordinator for Luzerne County, said this method is causing problems and forcing some recyclable materials to be disposed of as trash.

“Contamination is the biggest factor in why recycling is being thrown away instead of being recycled,” DeNardi said. “Residents need to know how to prepare the items for the recycling containers, what the towns are accepting for recycling and most importantly be aware of what they are putting into these containers.”

Due to the contamination and confusion about which items are recyclable, recycling centers are paying a fee to throw away unacceptable materials, according to Gino Marriggi, street department supervisor in Duryea. And Marriggi said that fee can be passed down to the communities using the recycling center and ultimately to the residents themselves.

These problems prompted Duryea to change back to dual-stream recycling.

“We used to do single-stream, where you can throw everything into one truck or bin. That’s where some of the headaches started to arise,” Marriggi said.

Due to the changes, Duryea residents now must use three separate bins for disposable items, including regular trash. Trash will continue to be collected every week. Recyclables will continue to be collected every other week, with commingled items being collected Wednesdays and paper products being collected Thursdays.

“Commingled, that is basically aluminum and other metal cans, glass and plastic,” Marriggi explained. “In another container would be the mixed paper. Then there are non-recyclables items that are considered trash, like styrofoam, bubble wrap, and plastic grocery bags, which is a big one. All of that is considered non-recyclable and brought to the landfill.”

While other Greater Pittston communities are continuing to use single-stream recycling, they too are experience the same issues as Duryea and are urging their residents to do a better job cleaning their items so they can be recycled and not discarded as trash at further expense to the communities.

“Please rinse your items before placing them in the recycling containers. Clean recycling has a better chance of getting turned into something else useful than dirty items do,” DeNardi said.

“Remember ‘read it, rinse it, recycle it,’” DeNardi said, explaining how to know exactly what is recyclable and how to best prepare recyclables for collection.

With Earth Day this week, now is a good time to make the extra effort to make recycling work more efficiently.

“Earth Day is the 22nd, so Duryea Borough is trying to kick off that day with some changes for the better of recycling,” said Marriggi. “We’re making an effort to do that.”

That effort is something all residents have to be willing to do to help protect the planet but also to help communities by reducing the cost of sending trash to landfills.

“It takes everyone’s help for recycling to work,” DeNardi explained. In addition to rinsing recyclables, she advised, “Check with the city to make sure what you are recycling is acceptable, as well. If not, be prepared for an increase in refuse costs.”