Location: Recycle Source in Hazelwood, also known as MRF (rhymes with smurf) that stands for Materials Recovery Facility

Featured guests: Omoye Aikhuele, recycling specialist with the City of Pittsburgh, and John Hudock, general manager at Recycle Source

3 things that surprised me:

1. Omoye explained that the City of Pittsburgh’s team picks up recycling from around 100,000 households in the city. They’ve got 17 trucks in their fleet and each truck can transport three to five tons in each truckload.

2. John explained that recyclables are sorted mechanically by weight and size as well as by hand. Meanwhile, teams of folks are inspecting conveyer belts filled with recyclables to pull out bits of plastic or other items that can’t be recycled. Once all of the plastics, metals and papers are sorted out, they’re formed into giant bales that are sold to manufacturers. Aluminum cans will likely be melted down and formed into new aluminum cans, while plastic bottles might be transformed into new bottles or even carpeting.

3. For a long time, Pittsburghers were instructed to put their recyclables in blue plastic bags before putting them on the curb. Over the last few years, the City of Pittsburgh has distributed plastic bins across the city and now recyclables can go straight into the bin – no plastic bags necessary. You can put glass containers in there too. While they do accept plastic bottles, Omoye asks folks to take the caps off before recycling those bottles. While metal cans are allowed, they cannot accept wire hangers or cooking pots and pans.

One thing that didn’t make the final cut: Something that struck me while visiting the recycling facility was how many birds were flying around the site. A group of swifts kept swooping down over the pile of freshly collected recyclables. It seems like they were most likely snacking on flies or other insects attracted by food residue left in the various containers.

Additional info: You can learn more about local recycling at the City of Pittsburgh’s website.

Want more Yinzer Backstage Pass? Check out our tour of Squonk’s rehearsal space as they prepare for they new interactive musical performance.

Boaz is the host of NEXTpittsburgh's Yinzer Backstage Pass video series. He is also an author, filmmaker, advertising copywriter, teacher, experiential storyteller, talk show host, gardener, kazoo museum curator and so much more.