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Philly Will Make Recycling Great Again; Stop Burning our Recycling on May 1st
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Philly Will Make Recycling Great Again; Stop Burning our Recycling on May 1st

City officials unveiled plans for Philadelphia’s new recycling contract with Waste Management this afternoon at Thomas Paine Plaza in Center City. The announcement was accompanied by a giveaway of new recycling bins and tote bags and a chance to play interactive games. The Streets Department also announced their new messaging campaign to reduce recycling contamination, urging residents to “Take a minute before you bin it”.

Here’s what you missed:

New Recycling Contract for Philadelphia: No more recyclables going up in flames

Under the new contract, 100 percent of recyclables are to be processed at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). This comes after the concerns raised when the city began to burn 50 percent of its recyclables due to the changes in the global recycling market after China implemented stricter standards.

Philadelphia will now be paying $90 to $100 per ton to process the recyclables. This is a relief for taxpayers. KYW Newsradio reported that the prices rose from $44 to $170 per ton back in October after the change and the expiration of the previous contract.

Carmen Perez, Waste Management Greater Mid-Atlantic area director of recycling, told Green Philly that as of now, the contract is set for four years.

Mayor Jim Kenney hopes that the new contract will get Philadelphia back on track with their goals for Zero Waste by 2035.

No Changes to What’s Recyclable

Despite having new contractors, no changes will be made as to what is and isn’t acceptable. Waste Management has no current plans for such change and will continue to accept the same materials.

Kyle Lewis, Philadelphia’s Recycling Director, said that traditional materials haven’t changed, but to be mindful of wish-cycling. Plastics 1, 2, and 5 are accepted. Laundry bottles, water bottles, and soda cans are fine as long as they are clean, dry, and empty.

“Recycled materials should be kept dry and free of food or liquids,” she said. “This along with keeping all plastic bags and contamination and dangers like greasy pizza boxes out of our recycling bins, will cut down contamination and dangers to our workers and sorting equipment.”

If you’re not sure what’s recyclable, Green Philly has you covered with our Recycling Guide.

New Bins WITH LIDS!

As a part of the new initiative, the Streets Department introduced new recycling bins with lids. The objective of the new lids are to reduce contamination.

“We can save taxpayer dollars,” said Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams. “We can save tax payers dollars anywhere between $5 to $6 per ton if we reduce the contamination rate from 10-15 percent.”

When it rains, it contaminates materials such as paper that could have been recyclable, but become trash after it gets wet. By having a lid, items can avoid being contaminated or blown away.

The lids are retrofittable with the existing bins. The bins and lids can be picked up at their Sanitation Convenience Centers. If you would like to request a recycling bin, you can do so here.

More Education

Recycling is not the final solution  to reducing Philadelphia’s waste, but it is an effective stepping stone after proper education.

“We’re going back to grassroots organizing,” said Williams.

SWEEP officers will be participating in door-to-door education, giving away pamphlets on what it is and isn’t recyclable. The Streets Department will continue public outreach campaigns, give out more print materials, and going into the schools to educate the children.

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Siani Colon
Siani is a junior journalism major with a minor in Latin American Studies at Temple University. She is an editorial fellow at Motivos Magazine and also works for student publications like The Temple News and 14th Street Magazine. During her downtime, Siani loves watching documentaries on Netflix. View all posts by Siani Colon
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