Recycling advocate gets ticket for not recycling

This was a help-desky story by Melissa Dribben in the Inquirer over the weekend, but there isn’t really an allegation of a mistake by the city, nor any confusion over how to access a city service. Basically, it looks like the city’s recycling enforcers gave a ticket to the recycling-est guy in town:

It happened July 23. Stutler, 35, of East Mount Airy, a vegetarian, an organic gardener, and a quality-control officer for a pharmaceutical company, was headed to the airport. He was going to Ohio to help his wife take care of her grandmother, who had just had several strokes.

Before he left, Stutler dragged his recycling in the usual blue bin to the curb, but, not wanting anyone to steal his garbage can while he was away, he put the rest of his trash in a bag.


Walking to the car, he came across a crushed soda bottle that had been tossed into the street and a gift that someone's dog had left on the sidewalk. Using a scrap of cardboard, he scooped up the poop, tossed it along with the bottle into the trash, tied up the bag, and drove away.

A week later, when he returned, he found a ticket wedged into the wrought iron of his front door. A code violation carrying a $50 fine. "Recyclables not separated from rubbish."

This is definitely some rough luck for Mr. Stutler, and perhaps a karmic injustice, but we’re not sure the inspectors did anything wrong here. How were they supposed to know Stutler used to own an organic farm in Oregon, and what should they have done differently if they did?

It is a problem, however, that Stutler’s chance to plead for leniency in court is more than half a year away. The waiting times to dispute tickets are a big issue in this town – the backlog is incredible, and an incredible inconvenience.

Update: "Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the Streets Department will herald the expansion of the City’s Recycling Program to include all household plastics labeled #3 through #7. The Streets Department’s Sanitation Division now collects these household materials as part of its weekly, single stream recycling collection. Residents are able to add these items to the recyclables they set out along with paper, glass, metal, cardboard, #1 and #2 plastics already collected at curbside." More here.

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