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Pittsburgh Audit Attributes Recycling Collection Delays to Staff Shortages

A recent audit of Pittsburgh, PA’s recycling program proved that a shortage of city refuse workers caused delays with curbside recycling pickup.

August 17, 2023

1 Min Read
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A recent audit of Pittsburgh, PA’s recycling program proved that a shortage of city refuse workers caused delays with curbside recycling pickup.

“Staffing continues to be a challenge for the city, and the recycling division is no exception,” said Lamb. “Recycling pickup is one of the most visible city services, and we must continue to invest in the people who provide this service to residents day in and day out.”

Data from 2020 and 2021 were used in the audit and found that the city typically had an insufficient number of refuse and recycling workers to complete daily routes. If the Environmental Services Department is short a waste collection worker, it recruits staff members from the recycle program to fill in the gaps. However, that also lead to missed recycling routes, according to the audit.

One of the issues seems to be pay rates for refuse workers. Lamb argued that the Department of Public Works should investigate pay rates and ensure that those pay rates remain competitive to improve employment and retention rates.

The audit found that missed recycled complaints made up an overwhelming majority of all 311 calls to Environmental Services during 2020 and 2021. According to Lamb, in 2021 4,000 calls were placed to 311 over missed recycling pickups.

Adding to that when recycling is missed, it contributes to litter rates. Lamb said that after 24 or 48 hours of sitting, a small amount of wind could blow “garbage all over the place” from the sitting recycling bins.

“You’re just additionally contributing to what is a very significant litter problem across the city," he added. “You can see that we’re having a real struggle right now, keeping our streets clean."

Read the full article here.

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