Monday, August 22, 2005

City recycling -- in need of fresh ideas?

Philadelphia only recycles about 6 percent of household waste of its residents, despite years of trying to increase that toward a goal of 35 percent.
[City Controller Saidel] and recycling advocates point to the $58 or so spent to dump each ton of trash at a landfill as a source of mega-savings. They maintain the city could save millions by such steps as enforcing the recycling ordinance; picking up additional materials, such as plastic, heavy cardboard and yard waste; and extending weekly recycling pickups across the city, where many neighborhoods still recycle every other week.

But the Streets Department insists it isn't all that simple. Officials say it costs more to collect recyclables than trash, potentially cancelling out future savings on landfill costs.
It's amazing to me is that chunks of the city still has recycling pick-up only biweekly. I can tell you from personal experience that that means that much more stuff gets dumped in the trash -- imagine one rainy pick-up day and how much paper you'll have after 4 total weeks of accumulation, or one forgotten recycling day and the smell of your old cans -- and statistics bear that out.

In fact, a new trial incentive program was launched this past spring (see previous story here), which has tripled participation in the regions affected. However, it appears that plans haven't yet been made to expand that approach more widely. Part of the debate is whether the rebates could be funded by city savings in waste-dump fees (offset by the higher cost of collection). I hope that this, and the simpler suggestions, are all followed up.


Blogger Dumplingeater said...

While I agree with your comments, I also feel compelled to point out that not everyone reads 25 newspapers a day (along with running two websites, going to work, taking care of 25 cats, and whatever else you do). Yeah, biweekly recycling is crazy, but maybe not as crazy for others as it would be for you.

9:03 AM  
Blogger ACM said...

no honestly -- just the Sunday Inquirer and some cereal boxes (ok, and a few New Yorkers), but my little container (and little apartment) couldn't hold much.
(but I do like the image you conjur. ;)

much more problematic is the need to remember which week -- you end up putting it out the wrong time (and hauling it back), or, more often, not putting it out a couple of times and then giving up and chucking the whole smelly pile. I mean, nobody in the neighborhood could ever tell me whether it was this week or last, or what happens in months with five trash days, etc., etc. and that's before holidays factor in. it seems simple enough, but having to track it on a calendar or whatever just raises the threshold (or level of commitment required) for something many folks just aren't that motivated for to start with. heck, most people don't take ATM receipts or balance their checkbooks anymore -- and they're going to track intermittant recycling collection? feh.

9:14 AM  

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