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Civic Impact

Recycled pets get help from recycled cans

Recycled pets -- well, dogs and cats awaiting adoption in the Animal Rescue League's shelter in Homewood -- are getting a boost from a program designed to increase recycling of items that apparently are low on people's recycling priorities: pet food cans.
We're great at recycling beverage cans, filling our blue bags with 65 percent of what we drink, according to Dave Mazza, regional director of the Pennsylvania Resources Council, which is working with Alcoa Foundation on this project. But we're not so good at recycling those messier pet food cans, he reports -- we only turn back a fifth of them for reuse.
To encourage better recycling, the Council's Cans for Pets campaign, through Alcoa, is donating five cents for every can turned in to the League's shelter, its wildlife center in Verona, the Council's South Side office and Banksville's The Dog Stop. The campaign has reached 6,500 cans toward its 20,000-can goal.
Mazza, a former municipal recycling manager, isn't entirely sure why pet cans pose more of a recycling problem for people. Unlike plastics, metal cans don't bear the recycling triangle and numbers that for a long time made people question whether particular jugs or jars were appropriate for recycling at all. It may be that we're simply reluctant to deal with the mess. An empty soda pop can is easy to rinse out. An empty can of Alpo? Not so much.
The Council has been working with Alcoa for years to boost aluminum-recycling rates, even instituting a recycling effort at Steelers tailgates. "Now we're starting to look at some of the items that are not recycled as often," Mazza says. "The thing about people, and animals as well, is that we're creatures of habit. The goal is to get people used to recycling their empty pet food cans."
Do Good:
Not sure where to recycle other items? Construction Junction has a guide and takes many hard-to-recycle items.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Dave Mazza, Pennsylvania Resources Council
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