There have been changes to recycling programs in Erie County, as well as across the nation. It’s important for us all to “clean up our stream,” or make sure we only recycle what can actually be recycled. For more information, contact the Erie County Sustainability Coordinator at 814-451-6019.
What can I recycle?
Because of recent recycling changes, there will be some items you can no longer place in your recycling bin or bag. Here are the guidelines that most residential and business recycling programs in Erie County follow:
Accepted in curbside bins:
- Full-sized sheets of office paper
- Cardboard (flattened)
- Paperboard boxes, from snacks or cereal (flattened)
- Plastic bottles
- Plastic jugs
- Plastic jars
- Aluminum drink cans
- Metal food cans
Some items that have been accepted as recyclable in the past that have been phased out of many of our local recycling programs include glass bottles and jars, plastics numbered 3 through 7, shredded paper, envelopes, and any postcards or small papers.
Not accepted in curbside bins
Always check with your municipality or recycling collection company to verify if a material is accepted or not. These items are generally no longer recyclable in curbside bins:
- Plastic bags. Although used for many years to collect recyclable materials, plastic bags create problems during the sorting process. Recyclables should be placed loose in recycling bins or totes instead of in bags. The City of Erie and Wesleyville Borough still use a bag collection system for their residents, but this may change in the near future.
- Glass. Few outlets accept recycled glass, which has a high cost to recycle thanks to its weight and potential to contaminate the stream.
- Plastics. Not all plastics are recyclable; just because it has a “recycling” symbol on the bottom with a number does not mean it is recyclable in your area or your program.
Any material that isn’t able to be recycled causes problems with other true recyclable materials in the sorting process. Instead, we encourage only recycling what is noted as being accepted in your program or area. So: When in doubt, throw it out.
Can I recycle glass?
Most of our recycling programs are considered “single stream,” which means one bin or bag for all your recyclables. However, glass can easily break during collection and shards can stick to other recyclable materials along the way from your home or business to the sorting facility. This contaminates other products and interferes with the sorting process.
Some waste and recycling haulers are still allowing glass to be placed in curbside recycling bins, but that doesn’t mean it is being truly recycled. In order for a material to be truly “recycled,” it must be completely broken down, melted, pelletized and made into a brand-new material. When a material is just used in a different way, it is actually “reused.” Glass still accepted in mixed-recycling program might be going to a landfill as trash, or it could be reused as a road material.
About glass collections
Customers of Waste Management, ProWaste, and Raccoon Refuse will notice that glass is no longer allowed in recycling bins. Advanced Disposal and Tri County Industries do still allow glass in their customers’ recycling bins. The difference is where the recyclables are being shipped for separation and processing. Those companies still accepting glass in recycling bins are using a facility based in Buffalo, which is mandated by New York state law to collect glass with other recycling. They are still having the same contamination problems as facilities in Pennsylvania; however, they must still continue accepting the glass, whether they can find a way to have it recycled or not. Because the facility in New York is not able to market the separated glass as a recyclable product, it is being reused as a road aggregate instead. While this is better than just throwing the glass out as garbage, it is important to understand that re-using an item is not the same as recycling it into a new product.
What can I do with glass?
In most communities that are no longer accepting glass in recycling bins or bags, there are few options. The easiest would be to place it in with your regular household trash. Another option is to save it until there is a viable option for glass recycling in Erie County. A new Erie County company, Bayfront Glass, is working to collect and recycle glass.
Another option is to find a way to creatively reuse glass jars and bottles.
With time, we hope to find a way to conveniently recycle glass again in the future. But until we find a way to do that, we all need to make changes in our everyday lives when it comes to purchasing and disposing of glass items.
Where can I recycle?
Residential recycling collection services:
- Advanced Disposal – mixed recycling in bins or totes
- City of Corry
- Millcreek Township
- Tri-County Industries – mixed recycling bins or totes
- Edinboro Borough
- Raccoon Refuse – mixed recycling bins or totes
- Albion Borough
- Union City Borough
- Summit Township
- Waste Management – mixed recycling bins or totes
- Fairview Township
- Girard Borough
- Girard Township
- Harborcreek Township
- Lake City Borough
- Lawrence Park Township
Residential services from municipal government:
- City of Erie – mixed recycling in bins or clear or blue bags
- North East Borough – mixed recycling in bins
- North East Township
- Separated bins for metals and plastics
- Newsprint should be bound
- Drop off at Township building for Cardboard
- Wesleyville Borough
- Mixed recycling in bins or clear bags
- Drop-off recycling site on Woodlawn Avenue
Residential recycling drop-off sites:
- Waste Management drop-off
- Pro Waste drop-off
- Please note that because of high contamination rates, among other issues, the Erie County recycling drop-off sites in Elgin and Albion have been closed. 800-458-0476
Services for businesses:
Several companies provide recycling services for businesses in Erie County; contact the company directly for details.
- Advanced Disposal
6330 Route 219, Brockway, PA 15824
- Pro Waste Services
813 East 18th Street, Erie, PA 16503
- Raccoon Refuse
PO Box 164, Mill Village, PA 16427
- Waste Management
851 Robison Road East, Erie, PA 16509
Where can I recycle electronics?
Electronics, specifically TVs and computers, were banned from disposal in landfills due to state legislation that also required the companies making the electronics responsible for offering recycling programs. Unfortunately, this has not only created a difficulty for many residents to find electronics recycling programs, but has made recycling electronics very expensive.
Erie County residents do have some options for recycling electronic items; some programs are open to all Erie County residents, but some are only open to residents of a specific municipality. Most programs will require a fee for service.
Free electronics recycling
- Best Buy still accepts some small electronic items, though all Pennsylvania Best Buy stores no longer accept computer monitors and televisions. For specific details, check out the Best Buy Electronics and Appliances Recycling page or call Best Buy at 814-860-8487. Some items are accepted for free; others may require the purchase of a new item or a small fee.
- Goodwill has partnered with Dell to provide free drop-off recycling of any brand of used computer equipment, in any condition. Drop-offs are accepted at Goodwill’s locations in Summit Towne Center, on West 26th Street, or on Nagle Road.
- Staples will accept some electronic items, specifically those connected with computers. These items will be accepted for free, limited to seven items per person. For information, see the Staples Recycling page or call Staples at 814-868-4901. Staples does not accept televisions.
- Penelec, through the Energy Efficiency Rebate program, will take working refrigerators and freezers when you purchase a new one. For more information, see the Appliance Turn-In Program.
Other electronics recycling programs
- Environmental Coordination Services and Recycling, 3237 U.S. Highway 19 in Cochranton, accepts drop-offs of materials for a fee. The company also operates on Tuesdays at the Erie County Recycling Center, 1624 Filmore Avenue. You must make an appointment. Fees apply. For more information, call 866-815-0016.
- Erie County Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Collection events are held on the second Saturday of each month from February through December. There are small fees for items to be recycled. Pre-registration is required. Fees apply. Call 866-815-0016 or register online to make an appointment for the county-sponsored collections event.
- Lincoln Recycling, 1602 Selinger Avenue, accepts some electronics, including computer monitors and televisions. Fees apply. Call 814-838-7628 for more details.
- ProWaste, 813 East 18th Street, accepts televisions and computers. Fees apply. Call 814-835-2739 for more details.
Municipal electronics recycling
- Residents who have curbside recycling through Waste Management in Fairview Township, Girard Borough, Girard Township, Harborcreek Township and Platea Borough have access to a curbside collection program for electronics and household hazardous waste called At Your Door. Those who use the Pay-As-You-Throw program through Waste Management for trash may be eligible in certain municipalities. Please contact your township or borough recycling coordinator to verify your eligibility or call the At Your Door program at 800-449-7587 to schedule a pick-up.
- Millcreek Township residents who have curbside recycling through Advanced Disposal are eligible for a curbside program to dispose of electronics and household hazardous waste at no additional cost. Those who use the Pay-As-You-Throw program through Advanced Disposal for trash may be eligible, but will be charged an additional fee. To schedule an appointment, call Advanced Disposal at 844-415-5970.
- The Borough of North East collects electronic materials the same day normal recycling is collected. Separate your acceptable electronics recycling materials from your normal recycling and place them in two separate piles. The same truck will collect both your normal recycling and your electronics recycling.
Please contact your municipality to learn more about electronics collection events in your area.
Where can I recycle hazardous waste?
The Erie County Recycling Program sponsors monthly Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Collection events, operated by Environmental Coordination Services and Recycling. The collections are open to all Erie County residents.
Acceptable materials include household waste items like batteries and paint, as well as some electronics. Registration is required; call 866-815-0016, or register online. Fees for the 2020 county-sponsored collections are 40 cents per pound for electronics and 50 cents per pound for household hazardous waste, and $5 per passenger tire (no rims).
To Register, simply contact ECS&R toll-free at (866) 815-0016 and inquire about County Sponsored Events or register online. Must bring valid driver’s license. This event is still open to all Erie County Residents. Due to Covid 19 regulations all participants MUST remain in their vehicles and follow social distancing procedures posted at the event. ECS&R staff will be wearing masks and we encourage participants to wear a mask when interacting with event staff.
2020 Collection Dates
- January 11 at 1624 Filmore Avenue, Erie, PA
- February 8 at 1624 Filmore Avenue, Erie, PA
- March 7 at 1624 Filmore Avenue, Erie, PA
- April 18 at 650 East Smith Street, Corry, PA
- May 9 at 1624 Filmore Avenue, Erie, PA
- June 13 at 36 Bessemer Street, Albion, PA
- July 11 at 1624 Filmore Avenue, Erie, PA
- August 8 at 1624 Filmore Avenue, Erie, PA
- September 12 at 1624 Filmore Avenue, Erie, PA
- October 10 at 650 East Smith Street, Corry, PA
- November 14 at 1624 Filmore Avenue, Erie, PA
- December 12 at 1624 Filmore Avenue, Erie, PA
How can I learn to compost?
Composting occurs naturally. As materials decompose, the dark nutrient rich soil-like material that results is called compost. By composting yard, garden and food waste from your home, you can reduce the amount of garbage you send to the landfill. Organic materials such as leaves, grass and most vegetable or fruit wastes comprise almost 20 percent of the residential waste stream—that’s about 330 pounds per person per year.
Composting is easy since there is no wrong way. No matter what you do, things will eventually decay. Your compost pile can be small, and it won’t smell if you layer properly. Pick a convenient place near your garden. Pile the waste or use wire mesh, snow fencing, wood, bricks or even garbage cans with holes punched in them to enclose the compost pile. The key is layering brown and green materials: about one-third green or wet material and about two-thirds brown or dry materials.
Green or wet materials:
- Fresh grass clippings
- Vegetable and fruit peelings
- Coffee grounds
- Egg shells
- Moldy bread
- Coffee Filters
- Pond algae
Brown or dry materials:
- Bark and twigs
- Wood chips
- Saw dust
- Paper towel tubes
- Shredded newsprint or paper
- Don’t try to compost meat, poultry, fish, diseased plants, dairy products, pet waste, cooking oil or invasive weeds because they attract rodents, spread unpleasant odors, or release disease agents and weeds through your garden.
- Mix three parts brown to one part green.
- Mix with a shovel or pitchfork for faster composting, or use a bin that spins.
- Turning the pile every three days will make it compost fastest, but you can turn it weekly, monthly, or not at all, though the more it’s turned, the faster materials will break down.
Want to learn more?
- Millcreek Township’s Backyard Composting video
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Backyard Composting Brochure
Does Erie County have a solid waste plan?
On January 26, 2016, Erie County Council adopted the 2015 Erie County Municipal Solid Waste Plan. It reviews the current waste and recycling efforts for Erie County and identifies objectives and goals that could assist the municipalities in decreasing trash generation and increase recycling efforts and reporting.
Those goals relate to:
- Motivating Commercial and Institutional Recycling
- Building Public Awareness and Support
- Pollution Prevention and Community Beautification
- Tracking, Monitoring and Data Management
- Organics Composting
In addition to the goals, the plan also lists landfills that have the capacity to accept Erie County waste and have executed landfill capacity agreements with Erie County. Those landfills, as of June 2016, are:
- Advanced Disposal Services
- Greentree Landfill
- Chestnut Valley (Back-up Facility)
- Casella Waste Management
- McKean County Landfill
- Hyland Landfill (Back-up Facility)
- Vogel Holding
- Seneca Landfill
- Waste Management
- Lake View Landfill
- Northwest Sanitary Landfill
- Chautauqua County Landfill
Act 101 is the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act of 1988, and requires that each county develop and submits an officially adopted Municipal Waste Management Plan for municipal waste generated within the county. In accordance with the requirements of Act 101 and its implementing regulations, Erie County previously developed and adopted Municipal Waste Management Plans in 1990 and 1995. Plans are required to be updated every 10 years.
The purpose of the plan as stated in Act 101 is to ensure that the county has sufficient processing and disposal capacity for its municipal waste for the next 10 years; ensure a full, fair and open discussion of alternative methods of municipal waste processing or disposal; ensure maximum feasible waste reduction of municipal waste or source separated recyclable material; shift the primary responsibility for developing and implementing municipal waste management plans from municipalities to counties; and conserve resources and protect the public health, safety and welfare from the short- and long-term dangers of transportation, processing, treatment, storage and disposal of municipal waste. Plan requirements are outlined under Act 101 and the Department of Environmental Protection regulations. In addition, this plan has been developed following Department of Environmental Protection guidance documents.