Saturday, October 11, 2008

What's in Your Bucket? (Part 1)

In 1987, Philadelphia became the first large city to pass a recycling law. Although that law made recycling mandatory, 93% of Philadelphia’s waste still goes to landfills. In fact, Philadelphia’s recycling efforts have waxed and waned many times over the years, with an initial program that served only 1/3 of the city, cuts from weekly to biweekly recycling pick-up, and restrictions on acceptable materials. Sadly the low recycling rate in Philadelphia reflects the ambivalence of past city governments (Rendell and Street), confusion about materials and schedules, and lack of enforcement or incentive (although saving the planet should be a pretty major incentive).

In July of this year, Single Stream Recycling expanded city wide. Now Philadelphians can easily recycle using any sturdy bin and by mixing together all of their materials. Simple, right? No, residents remain confused about what materials are acceptable. At our own house, we celebrated single stream by tossing material into the bin but began to realize that we’d become more liberal about our toss and to wonder if we should toss so freely. During the next few posts, Msphillyorganic will sort out some of the confusion.

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