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Chemical scare in Northampton prompts tips for safe recycling

Chemical scare prompts tips for safe recycling

NORTHAMPTON, Pa. - A chemical scare at a plant in Northampton County has prompted a waste management facility to remind everyone about the do's and don'ts of recycling.

Five workers were taken to the hospital and the Greenstar Allentown plant in Northampton was evacuated Monday after an unknown item on the sorting line leaked, officials said.

The workers were treated and released from the hospital, but Waste Management officials said more and more, facilities across the country are receiving items that are not recyclable and pose a threat to workers.

Patty Barthel, a company spokeswoman, said the single-stream facility on Smith Lane accepts residential and commercial products. She identified some of the items the facility can process.

"Cardboard, beverage cans, plastic bottles, paper of all types," Barthel said.  

Barthel said recyclers should keep this in mind when deciding what to put into their curbside bins.

"Cans, bottles, plastics that contain something you could eat, drink, or get exposed to your skin.  If it doesn't fit those categories, it really doesn't belong in the bin," Barthel said.

The facility in Northampton takes in close to 6,000 tons of materials every month, but not all of those items can be accepted.

Helium tanks, propane tanks, medical equipment and car parts are some of the items that could pose a threat to company workers, Barthel said.

"Any type of container that contains something toxic or hazardous, a liquid, gas, solid, or something under pressure should never be put in your recycling bin," said Barthel, stressing the importance of customers knowing what can and can't be recycled. "No matter how well we are looking at the materials, we really have to rely on our folks that are our customers to separate properly."

If you have a question about a specific item, call your local waste collector. You should also always check the labels on your bins.

For more information, visit

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Allentown, PA 18102





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