Saturday, February 20, 1993

MRF Processes Empty Steel Paint and Aerosol Cans from Western PA Recycling Center Operating for Twenty Years

Several communities in the Franklin Township area have had the opportunity to recycle empty steel paint and aerosol cans for about 20 years. But with the opening of the Franklin Township Recycling Center in March 1991, more than six communities are being given the same opportunity.

The Franklin Township Recycling Center accepts most types of empty steel containers for recycling from eight western Pennsylvania counties, including Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Clarion, Fayette, Mercer, Warren and Westmoreland. As a result, the facility handles as much as 12,000 pounds of empty steel food, beverage, paint and aerosol cans a day.

“Steel paint and aerosol cans are just a recyclable as other steel cans,” said John Novalesi, the new facility’s plant manager. “there’s no reason these cans should go to a landfill if they can be recycled. I’ve always believed that if something can be recycled, it should be.”

Little needs to be done to prepare steel paint and aerosol cans for recycling. Steel paint cans must be empty, and the remaining thin coat of paint should be allowed to dry. Aerosol cans should be empty of their product and the removable plastic cap taken off; spray nozzles should not be removed.

Novalesi frequently fields questions about how to prepare steel paint cans for recycling.

“People have asked me what to do with the little bit of extra paint remaining in their cans,” said Novalesi, “ and I tell them to do what my dad used to do: mix all the different paints together into a single can and use that paint to touch up inconspicuous areas, like in the basement or the attic. Allow the remaining thin skin of paint to dry, then recycle the cans.”

In addition to steel cans, the center accepts aluminum cans, plastic and glass containers, newspaper, magazines, cardboard and high grade office paper.

Commingled recyclables are placed onto one of the four loading docks to be passed along a conveyor belt. Steel cans are then magnetically separated from the mix of recyclable material and processed into bales weighing 2,000 to 2,300 pounds. The cente4r produces five to six bales a day to be delivered to area end markets.

Franklin Township’s original recycling center was a three room structure built by Novalesi, then an Ellwood City teacher, with help of high school students from his Youth For America group. The center first accepted empty steel paint and aerosol cans for recycling in 1969.