Sipping from a bottle of soda as he crossed Sixth Street at Grant past the USX Plaza, Lance Letterio pitched the empty bottle into the recycling slot of the receptacle recently installed on Grant Street, between Sixth and Strawberry Way.
A dutiful recycler at his North Fayette home, Letterio says he would've dropped the bottle into a trashcan as usual if he hadn't discovered the new bin.
"The more convenient it is," Letterio says, "the more people will use it."
In the first week of December, the recycling division of the city's Department of Public Works planted three such metal receptacles at some of the busiest spots Downtown to collect aluminum cans and plastics bottles. Ramping up the tonnage of recyclables collected -- namely newspaper, office-grade paper, plastics and aluminum -- has been one of the goals of the city's "Redd Up" campaign. While most people habitually recycle at home (the DPW reports residential compliance rates nearing 80 percent), recycling in the Downtown business district has been dismal. A survey conducted by the city last September of recycling by Downtown merchants showed that only a handful comply with the city's recycling ordinance. And office workers and other Downtown denizens felt they had no choice while outside but to dispose of bottles and cans except as trash.
"We're trying to change the attitude," says Phyllis Gibson, the city's recycling coordinator.
Standing more than four feet tall, the newly installed green receptacles -- fitted with a left slot for recyclables and a right for trash -- are also now in Market Square and the Wood Street T station. The city plans to place nine more in other spots in the coming weeks. DPW staff will monitor the volume of recyclables collected at each site for three to six months to determine the effectiveness of both the locations and different types of containers.
Gibson hopes that, once more receptacles become available and noticeable, pedestrians will start using them.
"You just have to make it convenient for people," she says, "and raise their consciousness level."