By Jessica O’Shell and Mia Rupani
Don’t trash my turf – this was just the first of many attempts to try and reduce the amount of litter that the city of Pittsburgh sees each year. While the somewhat newer slogan is a bit tougher than that of the old “Don’t be a Litterbug,” it’s still not scaring the citizens of Pittsburgh.
In 2012 with former Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl saw an increase in litter and ‘declared war’ that put stricter fines on individuals who were caught littering within the city.
Kyle Winkler is the current recycling supervisor at the Bureau of Environmental Services for the city of Pittsburgh, where he works to ensure that recycling in the city helps to keep our streets clean.
Before 2012, Pennsylvania state fines were only $10. But if individuals were cited with an offense through the state the penalties were as follows: first offense is a fine anywhere between $50-$300 and up to 90 days in jail. Re-occurring offenses will contain a fine anywhere from $300-$1,000, a third degree misdemeanor, a possibility of imprisonment and up to a year worth of community service.
“From a city perspective, it is cheaper to recycle than to throw something in a landfill,” Winkler said. “There are also huge environmental impacts from our wasteful society and by recycling, we help mitigate those impacts.”
According to the city code, recycling is mandatory for every resident, business, institution and office in Pittsburgh. Any residents and businesses that are caught violating it can face fines, but Winkler pointed out that these fines do not apply to residents of apartment buildings.
“We can’t fine people in apartment buildings, but we can fine the apartment building itself for not providing recycling in that building,” Winkler said.
Over the past three years, fines have not changed much – failing to recycle is still a minimum of $50 plus court costs and up to $500 plus court costs for additional violations.
If you have any questions on where you can find your nearest recycling center or when collection day is – call Environmental Services at 412-255-2773.