Recycle Rama Celebrates 10th Year
May 01, 2017 08:21AM
By Shari Berg
Hampton Middle School students volunteer during Recycle Rama
If there is one thing that never ceases to amaze Rita Ciccariello, it is the sheer amount of stuff collected each year at the annual Recycle Rama in Hampton Township.
“It truly is amazing how much stuff we get each year,” she said. “People must save up their stuff all year in anticipation of this event.”
Held each May for the last decade, Recycle Rama draws long lines of consumers from Hampton and surrounding communities who are eager to recycle some hard-to-dispose-of items such as televisions and other electronics. Ciccariello is one of more than a dozen individuals who comprise the Recycle Rama planning committee and are responsible for planning and executing the event each year. This year’s event is being held from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 20 in the Hampton High School parking lot.
According to the Allegheny County Health Department, 80 of the county’s 130 municipalities offer curbside collection of recyclable items and another 19 have drop-off programs. Communities with 5,000 residents or less are not required to offer recycling programs under the PA Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act of 1996.
Hampton is one of the municipalities that now offers curbside pickup to residents; however, not everything that can be recycled is included in the service. Items required to be recycled include aluminum and steel cans, numbers one and two grade plastics, clear and colored glass, newsprint, cardboard, high-grade office paper and leaf waste. Items such as scrap metal, electronics, batteries and construction materials are not part of curbside programs and can be extremely difficult to dispose of in an environmentally friendly way.
That’s where programs like Recycle Rama come into play, accepting many of the items that residents are unable to recycle any other way.
Before these kinds of programs were available, many of those difficult to dispose of items ended up in the regular trash, which was hardly good for the environment. For Hampton Township, that time was 10 years ago, when a group of Hampton Middle School students decided to make it their mission to make recycling easier.
Hampton Middle School teacher Glenn Geary said he had been encouraging his students to recycle on a small scale within the school when he first arrived at Hampton in 2003. The students started out recycling paper and, in 2005, signed up to participate in the Abitibi Paper Retriever Recycling program.
When Ciccariello served as the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) president for the middle school, she encouraged the students to expand the program further to include aluminum cans. But because the township did not offer recycling pickup for cans at that time, Ciccariello said she and other PTO members would rinse out the cans and haul them to a collection site in downtown Pittsburgh, which was tedious and time-consuming.
In 2007, Geary approached the school district about officially participating in a single-source garbage collection contract. “The Pennsylvania Resource Center had a recycling event and I thought that it was a great idea, so I asked the kids if they wanted to do something like that at Hampton,” said Geary.
The students were excited but knew that they would need adult assistance. The Recycle Rama committee was formed, consisting of students, PTO representatives from each of Hampton Township School District’s five buildings, and one building administrator from each school. Hampton resident David Young was responsible for coining the name Recycle Rama, and the first year focused on electronics, construction materials, gently used spirit wear and other items.
“Each year, we try to add something new,” said Ciccariello.
This year, the popular recycling program will be adding a second collection site to help ease traffic congestion. The collection of televisions and other electronics, as well as construction materials, will occur in the parking lot of the Hampton Township Community Swimming Pool, which is adjacent to the high school.
“This year, the police also will be directing traffic instead of our volunteers, so we’re hoping that will help to ease traffic congestion,” said Danelle Jameson, Recycle Rama chairwoman. “The police are asking those who plan to stop by the event to enter via Wildwood Road Extension, rather than via McCully Road, to help keep traffic flowing.”
Longtime volunteer Maryellen Meehan noted that the Recycle Rama committee has been fortunate to have Jameson’s leadership for the entire 10 years, but she added that new volunteers are always welcome. “We can’t be the only people in the township who are interested in recycling; we’re always looking for fresh input from others in the community,” she said.
Committee members also ask those coming to the event to be patient, to not show up before the event begins and to keep in mind that everyone involved with the event are volunteers, so to treat them with courtesy.
For a complete list of items included in this year’s Recycle Rama, visit the Hampton Township School District website at www.ht-sd.org/Community/RecycleRama or the Recycle Rama Facebook page.