Recycling has always been considered a part of the solution to the problem of plastic pollution. But American recycling is facing a crisis since China in January 2018 announced it would sharply limit plastic imports. The move sparks questions about what actually can be recycled and how plastic waste is handled in Allegheny County.
Pittsburgh has its own floating garbage patch. Behind a mooring cell for coal barges, some 400 feet upstream from the Hot Metal Bridge, a soaked mass of debris hugs the northern bank of the Monongahela River. It’s made up of tree branches, tires and a variety of discarded plastic products: water bottles, soccer and basketballs, sneakers, mangled pieces of polystyrene foam, cups, shopping bags and eating utensils. The patch is one destination for plastics in the Pittsburgh region. Other plastics are bound for recycling plants, where in many cases they’re shipped to landfills because they are either too dirty or are one of many types of plastics not recycled locally.
With the construction of Shell's ethane cracker plant in Beaver County fully underway, PublicSource spoke to a Shell representative along with seven other people who have different perspectives on the future of our region’s environment and industry.
It was raining nonstop, but that didn’t seem to have any effect on Sarah Baxendell’s enthusiasm as she showed visitors the future site of the Hilltop Urban Farm in Pittsburgh’s St. Clair neighborhood.
The 23-acre farm will grow food to sell, but its creators at the Hilltop Alliance are also planning to teach youth about agriculture and create a new generation of urban farmers. The farm will spin off into a stand-alone organization, and its staff hopes to transform what is now a food desert into an area “abundant with access to healthy food,” according to the farm’s website.
Pittsburgh now brands itself as a modern city built on research, robots, universities, advanced manufacturing, green energy — and the high-skilled jobs that come with it all.
But there’s another narrative developing: The plethora of shale gas and natural gas liquids in Southwestern Pennsylvania provide a solid foundation to build a new gas and petrochemical hub in Pittsburgh’s backyard.
Climate change is poised to create unprecedented transformations in precipitation, stream flows and temperature, likely to test the resilience of the system of 16 dams and reservoirs operated by the Pittsburgh district of the corps, which includes the Loyalhanna Dam.