Starting on December 3rd, for the first time since 1992 — NINETEEN FUCKING NINETY TWO, PEOPLE — you will be able to recycle your plastic bottles at the curb with the other stuff you normally recycle (aluminum cans and glass bottles) in Center City and South Philadelphia.
It’s true. The Streets Department has seen the writing on the wall and is finally beginning to get off their fat, lazy asses. Impressively, in the second expansion of the single stream program that began in Northeast Philadelphia last year and was added to West Philadelphia this spring, single stream recycling is now coming to Center City and South Philadelphia.
Single stream recycling is where it’s at. No sorting necessary. Just toss your cans, glass, plastic, cardboard and mixed paper all in the same bin. Put it out on the curb. And poof. It’s gone.
It’s taken away to the Blue Mountain Recycling Center in Grays Ferry, where “state-of-the-art machines use magnets, fans, gravity and centrifugal force to sort the hodgepodge, weeding paper from cardboard, plastic from glass.”
So make sure you tell everybody you know. Recycling plastic is back. Recycling cardboard is back. Recycling in Philadelphia is back. Starting on December 3rd, if you live south of Vine Street between the Schuylkill and the Delaware Rivers, you can toss all your recyclables in the same bin and get rid of ‘em curbside.
You don’t even need a blue bin. (Which is good because apparently Penn snatched up pretty much all of them.) Just mark one of your containers “RECYCLING” and throw everything in it. Water bottles. Soda bottles. Mouthwash bottles. Laundry soap bottles. Any plastic bottle that has a #1 or #2 on the bottom of it. Effing recycle it.
(For more details about how to single stream, etc., check out the Streets Department website or give a shout in the comments. This PDF outlines what's what, but it has not been updated to reflect South Philly and Center City going single stream.)
Now, while we do have to admit that the Streets Department should definitely be commended for expanding the single stream recycling somewhat rapidly, this is only one piece of the puzzle. To reach the citywide 40% recycling rate, a goal that the city first set in 1987, you not only have to make recycling really easy (single stream), you are going to have to add incentives as well.
And that’s where RecycleBank comes in. Single stream is good, but single stream plus incentives, which is RecycleBank’s formula, is even better. We strongly urge Mayor Elect Nutter to greatly expand RecycleBank’s pilot area in Chestnut Hill and West Oak Lane and see if the company can’t provide its services to the entire city. (Hint: it can.)
The city’s recycling rate is currently around 6%. The expansion of single stream is a good baby step. One that might get the rate up to 16% in three years (according to a Streets Department official). But if you seriously want to approach a respectable recycling rate of 35% — a rate that would save the city more than $17 million annually and a rate that would signal that the city has, indeed, moved into the 21st Century, then you have to look toward an innovation by the name of RecycleBank.
It shouldn’t be so difficult to recycle. On the contrary, it should be ridiculously easy.
Let’s make it so.
Philadelphia Streets Department Recognizes “America Recycles Day” [Recycling Pays @ Phila.gov]
The Recycling Riddle [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Getting West Philadelphia Greener, Bin by Bin [ Daily Pennsylvanian ]
RecycleNow Philadelphia [ Official Site ]
Recycling Alliance of Philadelphia [ Official Site ]
RecycleBank [Official Site]