Friday, January 9th, 2009

Single Stream Recycling: More Cities Should Follow Philly’s Lead

I’m not from Philadelphia – I was born in Trenton, NJ – but I spent most of my formative years in the City of Brotherly Love. I went to a great Jesuit high School, St. Joseph’s Prep, and then onto Drexel University. I have many great memories of the city; but honestly, in those days, it wasn’t the cleanest place I’d ever been. Fast forward to this week.

On January 6, Mayor Michael Nutter announced that he was making good on a campaign promise to have single stream recycling pick up in every Philadelphia neighborhood on a weekly basis. In the Mayor’s open letter to the people of Philadelphia he writes:

From Monday, January 5th, we will collect all recyclables from the curbside, every week, as Philadelphia becomes the largest city on the East Coast to have weekly, single stream recycling. This is one more step forward in our quest to become the greenest city in the United States… You told us that it was inconvenient to have to separate all of your recyclables – glass, plastic, paper – into multiple bins. You told us that it was inconvenient to have recycling collection on a different day to trash collection. We listened, and we made the changes.

Judging from this Philadelphia Inquirer article, the Mayor’s news was applauded by recycling advocates:

Recycling advocates were jubilant, praising Mayor Nutter not only for following through on his campaign promise to increase recycling, but also for doing so in the face of plummeting prices for commodities… Maurice Sampson II, chair of RecycleNOW Philadelphia and a frequent critic of the city’s recycling efforts, said he was happy with the expanded program. “I’ve never seen a streets department so charged. [Deputy Streets Commissioner] Carlton Williams is becoming my hero.”

Bravo Mayor Nutter!

Why is this important? Well, as Mayor Nutter notes in his letter, the program is designed to remove obstacles to recycling. People complained that sorting was too difficult – single stream eliminates that concern. People complained that having bi-weekly pickup on a different day than their regular trash pickup made it difficult to remember when recycle pickup would occur – this program eliminates that also. Recycling needs to be a part of our daily life. If the great city of Philadelphia can take this step to make it easier and more convenient for its citizens, I suspect that there are a lot of other cities, towns and local municipalities that can do the same.

How about yours? What is your city doing to help make recycling easier?

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