Paper, Cardboard Recycling Changes in Lackawanna County

LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Pa. - People in Lackawanna County are noticing a change in how their recycling is collected since the start of the new year.

For the first time, homeowners in Lackawanna County will have to separate cardboard from other paper. It's the latest change handed down from the private recycling center many of the county's townships and boroughs use.

Many of the sidewalks in Scranton show the remnants of Christmas -- lots of cardboard boxes waiting for recycling pickup.

But Scrantonians may notice the DPW making two trips, one for newspaper and office paper and another for all that cardboard.

Many municipalities in Lackawanna County are switching up the way they collect paper recyclables in 2020. Dickson City is one of them.

"We have a two-compartment recycling truck that only allows us for two items, so we'll collect comingle every week, which would be our bottles, cans, jars, plastic. And on the other side we're going to alternate weeks between cardboard and paper, magazines, and newspapers," explained borough manager Cesare Forconi.

The change in how your recycling is being picked up has to do with changes at the Lackawanna County Recycling Center. Basically, comingled paper products don't make as much money as just cardboard alone. That's why the recycling center is telling townships and boroughs to collect cardboard and paper separately.

"This is the Lackawanna County Recycling Center. This is where it all comes from. It's what they accept, not Moosic borough," said Jane Sterling, Moosic borough administrator.

Moosic officials sent out a mailer a few weeks ago, letting residents know that starting in February, paper will only be collected once a month. Cardboard will be collected the rest of the month.

Borough administrator Jane Sterling says there's been a learning curve, especially since residents had been used to single-stream recycling where all recyclables could be thrown in the same bin.

Recycling officials say that the process is no longer profitable, but the changes are now coming at the municipalities' expense.

"Single-stream was the worst thing that ever happened in the state of Pennsylvania. And those numbers, those recycling numbers, that was a disaster. Because that just confuses people. That's who recycles, your residents, so that's where we, the borough, has to go out and make sure that all of our residents know exactly how to recycle," Sterling said.

We spoke to officials at many of the boroughs and townships that use the Lackawanna County Recycling Center. Most told us that they are looking for grant money either for new recycling trucks or bins to help them deal with the collection changes.