Philadelphia’s Recycling Rates Up 155 Percent in 6 Years

The city's landfill diversion rate once hovered around five percent. In the last six years, it has jumped to 21 percent.

Philadelphia isn’t America’s greenest city, like Mayor Nutter said we would be when he took office. But there is some good news on the sustainability front: In the last six years, the city has increased its recycling rate by 155 percent.

In 2008, the city diverted just 8 percent of its waste away from landfills. Now, the city diverts 21 percent. If one also counts industrial and construction, the city diverts around 50 percent of its waste away from landfills. (San Francisco has a more-impressive 80-percent rate.)

There are several reasons for the jump in recycling rates: Weekly recyclables collection, the Recyclebank rewards program, single-stream collection and tickets to residents who don’t recycle have all upped the city’s diversion rate.

Oh, yeah, and we must give a little credit to Philadelphia’s recycling mascot, Curby Bucket. Today’s kids may not get the Kirby Puckett reference, and I’m not even sure how often the Streets Department trots him out anymore, but who cares — let’s give him credit, too!

Philadelphia was once a leader in recycling in the area; it passed the first curbside recycling program in the state in 1989. The city collected 128,000 tons of curbside recyclables this fiscal year, the most ever.

[Triple Pundit]