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Can I Recycle “Compostable” or “Biodegradable” Plastics in Philadelphia?
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Can I Recycle “Compostable” or “Biodegradable” Plastics in Philadelphia?

The terms “Compostable” and “Biodegradable” plastics basically just mean plastics that are made with resin content that is bio (instead of fossil) based.

This includes the CocaCola Plant Bottles or the biodegradable utensils and bowls that can be seen at SweetGreen. These plastics have the same chemical properties as the fossil-based plastics – which means they can be recycled.

Can I Recycle “Compostable” or “Biodegradable” Plastics in Philadelphia?

The simple answer is yes!

That does not necessarily mean they are biodegradable or compostable, though – they’re often lined with plastic which can contaminate your bin. This Grist article explains further.

Photo: Green Upgrader

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Bridget Wilby
Bridget is a cadet at the United States Military Academy. Her interest in the environment bloomed when she spent one month backpacking in the wilderness of New Mexico. Since that trip, she has been inspired to educate and encourage others to be more "environmentally friendly" so that the generations to come can enjoy the great outdoors, just as we can. View all posts by Bridget Wilby

6 thoughts on “Can I Recycle “Compostable” or “Biodegradable” Plastics in Philadelphia?

  1. Moving back to Phila. after 30 years in San Francisco highlights the different stages the two cities are with regard to their ‘greeness’. I would really like to see a major push to provide a third bin next to: Trash, and Recycle throughout the city. That is one for Compost. I truly do not underestimate the logistical as well as the educational challenge with this endeavor. I would say it took a few years for individuals and businesses to really latch onto this in SF. But we must begin.

    I am particularly sorry to not see recycle bins at Spruce Street Harbor park. And at many city parks and functions. This is something that the city of Phila. can and should spearhead.

  2. Are you sure this info is correct? The city’s site says they do not accept biodegradable and compostable plastics: http://www.recyclebycity.com/philadelphia/guide

    This is one of the most comprehensive educational recycling sites I’ve come across – really great! You might also wanna check out the quiz and see how you fare

  3. Felix – sorry, not really sure what you are saying. Online info is good, but receptacles with clear graphic (pics) of what goes where are the best education at the street level. If these bins w/ ed materials are placed liberally around at City events, parks, etc. the public begins to understand the whole process better. The ripple effect is it begins to extend into their everyday lives. Philly seems to be getting there with recycling, but has a long way to go w/ regard to composting. I mean last time I checked, the offices of the Philly Inquirer are not even recycling their office paper – from my understanding. And they produce a lot of paper. They have the blue recycle trash bins, but if you ask a maintenance person, they all go in one dumpster w/ the garbage.

  4. Hi Felix! I wanted to answer your question. We checked with Philadelphia City officials (and friends over at Bennett Compost) who both confirmed that although it’s counterintuitive, you CAN recycle compostable plastic, and they’re actually trickier to compost than advertised. Specifically, these bottles have the “same chemical properties as the fossil-based plastics and yes, are recyclable.” I’m happy to connect you with local experts if you need a further explanation – Just email me. (julie(at) greenphillyblog (dot) com. Thanks for asking!

  5. Amishsteve, I agree that the city should compost. Also, there are many events that lack recycle bins – or not clearly marked, often confusing the public.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. The blue recycling bins going into the trash are WHY we started the blog! Different employer, but same story… it’s tragic.

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