Mercer and Lawrence County officials are citing rising costs as the reason for an upcoming change in recycling opportunities. 

According to a release from the Lawrence-Mercer Recycling/Solid Waste Department, the changes to the Big Blue Bin program in the counties will begin in 2019. 

The release notes that there are currently 16 recycling sites, consisting of 78 bins. 

However, due to rising costs, the counties say they'll have to reduce the number of bins. 

In order to maintain the program, a decision was made to reduce the number of bins from 78 to 39. 

The release also notes that there are currently no plans to close any sites under the new contract, but the remaining sites will focus solely on collecting cardboard and newspaper while eliminating plastic, metal, and glass.

Lawrence-Mercer Recycling/Solid Waste Department Director Jerry Zona said in the release that he had been anticipating increased costs for the Big Blue Bin program and had been brainstorming ideas for worst-case scenarios.

Zona said that dropping the metal, glass, and plastic from the program was determined to be the most logical approach to the challenge. According to 

According to Zona, this course of action will result in no increase to the budget and by focusing strictly on papers the counties will not have to pick and choose sites to close.

Megan Gahring, Assistant Director for the Recycling/Solid Waste Department, said counties would have had to eliminate half the sites in order to continue the collection of both material streams. 

The Recycling/Solid Waste Department will begin rolling out the program change before the end of the year with the removal of the metal, glass and plastic bins.

Officials say it will be critical for residents and businesses to adhere to the lists of acceptable items from their recycling haulers. 

The release says residents that want to recycle curbside have some options.

Gahring said in the release that all residents and businesses in Farrell, Greenville, Grove City, Hermitage and Sharon in Mercer County and Ellwood City, Neshannock, New Castle, New Wilmington, Shenango and Union in Lawrence County are required by state and local laws to curbside recycle at their home and place of business. 

In addition, officials note that in those areas, the owners of multi-family apartments and condos are required to provide recycling for their tenants.
Residents in other municipalities that are customers of Tri-County Industries or Valley Waste can recycle by requesting a recycling container through their hauler.