Friday, May 29, 2015

Philly recycling quadruples

In just four years, Philadelphia has quadrupled its recycling rate That is unequivocally good news and a credit to Mayor Nutter, who has been tirelessly pushing this issue forward since his days on City Council.

Philly recycling quadruples

In just four years, Philadelphia has quadrupled its recycling rate That is unequivocally good news and a credit to Mayor Nutter, who has been tirelessly pushing this issue forward since his days on City Council.

The Greenworks Progress Report for 2011 (PDF) puts it this way:

After years of steady growth in the city’s recycling rate, the Streets Department again recorded record rates of diversion in neighborhoods
across the city. In the first quarter of 2011, the curbside diversion rate was just over 20%, four times higher than the 2006 rate. Some sections of the city achieved diversion rates over 30%, and many neighborhoods have seen double-digit increases in recycling in the past year.

By switching to curbside collection of all plastics numbered 1 through 7 in August 2010, the Streets Department took the guesswork out of recycling in Philadelphia, which boasts the largest single stream collection program on the East Coast. Philadelphia Recycling Rewards also provides many residents with an extra incentive to make sure they recycle as much as possible. The increase in recycling didn’t happen on its own though, and thanks are due to block captains, neighborhood groups, and every Philadelphian who puts their bin out each week.

Earth to Philly has been chronicling these changes as they've come to pass (and sometimes before) and will continue to keep track as, one would hope, our numbers continue to climb.

There's also a good write-up over at Newsworks about the four-fold increase and how it was achieved - you may be gratified, or alarmed, to know that "trash police" are already out there giving tickets for non-compliance.

But let's not crack out the champagne just yet: Compared with other U.S. cities, our recycling rate, at 20 %, is still laughably low. San Francisco recycles 72 % of its waste. For Portland, it's 67 %, and for LA, 65 %. Even New York (55 %) and Chicago (52 %) blow us out of the water. And if you think this is city-by-city cherry-picking, the 2009 average city recycling rate was 32.5 percent. Only Philly's best-performing neighborhoods even came close to that.

In other words, we can all do better, and it must be admitted that the oft-quoted "greenest city in America" goal is still, shall we say, quite a ways off.

Ever get the sense that maybe some other cities are also aiming for it?

About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to

Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.

Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.

Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.

Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.

Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...

Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.

Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.

Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.

In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man

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