Trash & Recycling FAQs

This FAQ page has been put together to answer many of the questions that you may have. If you have more questions please call the Palmer Municipal Building (610) 253-7191 or email Cindy Oatis at

To view the answer to the questions click on the tab and the answer box will open.

What is Automated Collection?

Automated waste and recycling collection has been very successful where implemented in the United States. The system is called “automated” because a special truck, equipped with a mechanical/robotic arm, automatically lifts and empties special trash containers (known as carts or toters) and returns them to their original position without the driver ever leaving the cab of the truck. This is a system designed to improve efficiency, make the task of putting out garbage easier and cleaner for the residents, improve the appearance of the community and greatly reduce the injury potential for collection employees.

Why did we change to an automated collection system?

  1. Single-stream recycling recently became a viable option in our area and could not be used with our prior curbside containers.
  2. Our recycling tonnages will go up and our disposal costs will go down.
  3. Lids on the carts will keep the materials contained, keep animals out and keep rain out. Since the landfill charges by weight, it is important to keep rain out.
  4. Automated collection is much safer because it eliminates the need to manually handle the garbage cans, thereby reducing the opportunity for job related injuries. Manual collection poses many health risks to workers – back injuries, lacerations, and even being hit by cars. Trash collectors are consistently listed at the top of the “Most Deadly Jobs” list.
  5. Automation is our best opportunity for containing costs both now and in the future.
  6. The curbside 96-gallon carts are well-balanced, maneuverable, and easy to roll. Each one is extremely durable, features a close-fitting lid and will hold as much household garbage as three (3) regular garbage cans.
  7. Statistics show that one 96 gallon cart meets the needs of most households if they are recycling.

What is "Single-Stream" Recycling?

Single stream (also known as "fully commingled" or "single-sort") recycling refers to a system in which all glass, paper, junk mail, magazines, newsprint, cardboard, plastics (#’s 1-7), aluminum, tin and bi-metal cans, are collected together in one cart instead of the materials being sorted or bundled by the resident before being put out to the curb for collection.

Single stream is easy! No longer will residents have to sort, flatten and bundle boxes or bundle magazines and newsprint.

What are the advantages of single-stream recycling?

  1. Reduced sorting makes it easier for residents to recycle
  2. Reduced collection costs
  3. Collection routes can be serviced more efficiently
  4. Single-stream provides an opportunity to add new materials to the list of accepted recyclables.
  5. More paper grades are able to be collected. This includes junk mail, telephone books and mixed residential paper.
  6. Single stream increases recycling tonnages, which in turn increases the Township’s revenue and state grant funding. It also decreases our waste disposal costs because every ton we recycle is one less ton we would have to pay to landfill!

What do I need to know about these 96 gallon wheeled carts?

  1. The containers are well-balanced and very maneuverable, making them simple to roll to and from the curb. No more dragging heavy trash cans to the street or bags bursting on the way to the curb.
  2. Each cart is the property of the Township and will be embossed with the Township name. An identification tag assigns a number to each property owner and street address. The Township will maintain a database for the numbered containers. The cart remains with the address in the event of a move.
  3. The carts are guaranteed by the manufacturer for 10 years and the repairs will be done by them during that period. Most experts believe that they will last up to 20 years. An occasional repair or replacement of a lid or wheel is easily done.
  4. Hinges keep the lids attached and prevent lids from blowing around and being run over by cars or lost.
  5. Lids keep animals out and prevent trash from escaping and blowing around the neighborhood.
  6. Automated carts are designed to stay upright in up to 45 mph winds.
  7. The footprint of the cart is similar to a regular container but it has three times the capacity.

Is there a charge to the residents for these carts?

No. There is no additional charge to our residents.

May I get a smaller cart?

No. Keep in mind that extra bagged trash will not be accepted. The larger carts allow room for the occasional "extra" trash or recycling.

What if one cart is not enough for our family's weekly trash? May I get a second one?

Residents, as long as they are recycling, rarely need more than one 96-gallon waste cart. Be sure to check the recyclables list. If you’re recycling all the allowed materials, it’s possible that you may find more room in your trash cart.

Should you find you have more trash than what fits in your cart, you may request an additional cart by coming to the Township office, at 3 Weller Place, Palmer, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30.p.m. to complete a request for an additional trash cart. The fee for the additional cart will be provided at a cost of $250.00 each. This is a one-time service fee that covers the service and disposal charges for the extra waste. The cart is owned by the Township and must remain on the property. If a resident moves to another location within the Township, the extra purchased cart may be taken; otherwise the cart must be returned to the Township Public Works Department or Hartley Avenue Recycling Center.

What if one cart is not enough for our family's recyclables? May I get a second one?

Additional recycling carts will be provided for free.

What if my cart is stolen?

If your cart is stolen, you must report it to the Palmer Police immediately. A stolen cart will be replaced free of charge if you provide a police case number.

Nationwide, communities report minimal theft due to being clearly embossed with the township name, the large size and the fact that they are traceable through the RFID tag.

What if my cart is damaged?

If the collection truck caused the damage, we will replace the cart at no charge to you. If the cart is damaged due to neglect, abuse, mutilation or modification, you will be responsible for purchasing a replacement cart. Wheels, lids, and axles are normally replaced at no cost to the resident.

If your cart is damaged, notify Palmer Township at (610) 253-7191 for a replacement or repairs.

What if I am physically challenged and unable to get my container to the curb or alley?

Assistance to the physically challenged (door-curbside service) is available to anyone who needs it, as verified by your physician. To request this help, call the Township office at (610) 253-7191, extension 1160.

Where and how do I place my cart for collection?

  1. Carts must be within two feet of the curb edge by 6:00 AM on the morning of collection and must be removed from the street no later than 7:00 PM on collection day. Carts are not to be left on the street all week.
  2. Please place the cart at least 4 feet from any tree, utility pole, mailbox, fire hydrant, etc., and at least 5 feet away from any cars parked in the street. Carts must be placed at least 3 feet apart from each other.
  3. If you lean anything against the container, it cannot be lifted for dumping.
  4. Remember to place the arrows on the lid of the container toward the street and the handle toward the house.

What about parked cars?

The automated truck arm has a reach of 6 feet. The arm requires 3' clearance around the cart for the lifting mechanism to work properly. Cars parked in front of or too close to the cart may prevent collection.

Why do the handles on the garbage and recycling containers need to be facing my house?

The automated collection truck cannot turn the container around as it picks it up. Dumping the container “backwards” can break or damage the lid.

Why do I need to provide space between my garbage cart, recycling cart and other items out for collection?

A different vehicle collects each item, so access is important. Also, the collection arm on the automated truck requires space to make the collection safely so that it will not tip over other containers or damage your property.

What if it snows?

Emptying the carts under most weather circumstances should not be a problem. Certain weather emergencies may require a one-day delay of our waste and recycling collection. Collections for the remainder of the week will run one day behind schedule, with regular Friday collection being completed on Saturday. Information regarding this type of delay will be posted as soon as possible on, Channel 69 TV news, and on radio channels 96.1, 99.9, 100.7, 103.5.

My neighbor never takes their containers(s) back to their house. They are always out front. What can I do?

Palmer will allow containers to be at the curbside for collection only from 7pm the day before collection day, to 7pm the day of the scheduled collection day. If you are aware of someone repeatedly leaving their containers out beyond these time frames, please contact the Palmer Municipal Building at (610) 253-7191, extension 1160.

How do I store and care for my cart?

  1. Do not drag the cart when moving it. Tilt and roll it with the lid closed.
  2. Keep lid closed at all times.
  3. Clean the cart periodically with water.
  4. Store the cart in the backyard, side yard or garage.

What should I not do to my cart?

  1. Do not store it near a fireplace, furnace, grill or other heat source.
  2. Do not place hot ashes, solvents, paints, or other flammable liquids in the cart.
  3. Do not use the cart to hold hazardous materials such as: dead animals, chemicals, oils, liquids and medical waste, exposed needles, used bandages, etc.
  4. Do not place dirt, rocks, large limbs, or building materials in the cart.
  5. Do not place automotive parts or tires in the cart.
  6. Do not overfill the cart to the extent the lid will not fully close. If the lid is not closed, garbage will spill to the road during collection so the container will not be emptied.
  7. Do not allow children to play in or on the cart.
  8. Please DO NOT write house numbers or put any other marking on the carts.
  9. The cart is the property of Palmer Township. If you move, please leave the cart at your home.

I bought a cart at Home Depot that looks just like the ones we'll be using. May I use it?

No, the automated truck can ONLY pick up the containers designated as Palmer Township 96-gallon, green containers.

What if I have items too large to fit into my cart?

Palmer Township has provided special curbside collections to accommodate items too large to fit in your cart. Click here to view our Special Collections Page.

What do we do with our yard waste?

Click here to view yard waste options.

What goes into my recycling cart?

Place all recycling materials in the green automated recycling cart with the yellow lid:

  1. Plastic bottles, jars, tubs and rigid containers stamped with the recycle logo containing the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 - NO STYROFOAM (empty and clean).
  2. Glass bottles and jars (empty and clean)
  3. Aluminum, bi-metal, tin cans, aluminum foil and plates, etc. (empty and clean)
  4. Newspaper and all inserts, paper bags, magazines, catalogs, file folders, phone books. No need to tie, bundle, or bag
  5. Office white, colored, or shredded paper, envelopes (staples & paper clips ok), No need to tie, bundle, or bag
  6. Cardboard: Shoe, gift, shipping, or cereal boxes that tear brown or grey (remove liners). No need to bundle or flatten unless too large to release easily when the can is emptied. Cut up if necessary.
  7. Cartons: milk, orange juice, broth, egg beaters, cream, half and half, egg substitutes, soup, soy milk, milk, wine and juice boxes.

What should NOT go into my recycling cart?

Do not place food waste, mirrors, ceramics, windows or any glass other than bottles, light bulbs, films, plastic wrap, or plastic bags or Styrofoam of any kind into your recycling container.

Do I need to clean my recyclables before placing them in the cart?

Yes, it is recommended. Rinsing your items keeps things sanitary and your cart clean.

Does cardboard have to be bundled and tied?

Cardboard boxes do NOT have to be bundled and tied. Items such as cereal and shoe boxes can now simply be dropped into the cart. To prevent cardboard from being jammed too tightly, we ask that you cut or flatten the cardboard so that the container can be easily emptied.

Can I place additional trash or recycling next to the cart?

No. All waste or recycling must be placed inside the recycling or waste carts. Trash left in bags or other types of containers or carts, other than Palmer Township’s specific carts, will not be collected.

How full should my recycling cart be when I set it out?

It is most efficient and economical for our trucks to make stops for full, or nearly full carts. Also, it improves air quality when trucks don’t have to make unnecessary stops. If your cart is not full and you feel you can wait until the next collection cycle, please do not put your cart out.

Do I still need to bag my trash?

Yes, all trash should be bagged before it is put in the cart. Bagging helps keep your cart clean and reduces windblown litter. We will not pick up litter blown out of the carts.

Why can we no longer put out TV's and certain electronics out as waste?

This is a Pennsylvania disposal ban effective January 24, 2013, which prohibits landfills and other solid waste disposal facilities from accepting items such as televisions, computers, hard drives, monitors, keyboards, printers or other type of components. For more information on electronics recycling options click here.

What is the proper disposal of personal syringes?

Personal syringes should not be placed in the trash. Follow the procedure on this link for the proper way to dispose of personal syringes.

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