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Philadelphia Recycles – A Good Idea Gone Mad?

November 15, 2010

Philadelphia Recycles


I am hearing many complaints from Philadelphia residents and property owner who have received $50 fines, increasing rapidly to $100 if unpaid, for not following the trash and recycling rules. 

I am a big fan of recycling, I hate litter, but I can’t believe that it is cost effective to hire trash inspectors and clerical staff to issue and collect fines when better education and clearer directions are needed. It certainly does not create any good will toward City Government. 

For the most part people are not defying the rules, they are simply unaware, or confused. A co-worker of mine was dumbfounded to find a City employee sorting through her trash looking for envelopes with her name on them. Envelops belong in your recycling bucket. Better yet, shred them first. 

A client who owns a triplex already pays to get his tenants trash and recyclables put out properly. He contacted me, hysterical about  getting yet another fine. Apparently his recycling bucket was not properly labeled. 

In an effort to help, I set out to find the rules. There are many and they are complicated. There is a rewards program if you can figure out what to do. You will get points. That’s nice. 

I found information about recycling at the City’s website,, but only after a persistent hunt. The Streets Department is responsible for trash collection and recycling. Their website, provides information about what and how and when to recycle. provides the information and the sign up process for the rewards program. 

Beware, if you think you know what to do, the rules change from time to time. The rules about plastics changed in August 2010. 

If you thought you knew what to do with the leaves that are falling all over your yard, because you knew what to do last year, think again. The City is not sending trucks around vacuum up the leaves from the curb. 

You can recycle your leaves by putting them in the correct type of recyclable paper bags. You will have to buy the bags. Your properly bagged leaves will be turned into compost. If you put leaves in plastic bags they will end up in the regular trash. (No word about whether you will be fined for putting leaves in the regular trash.) 

If you have your own stories, advice, or suggestions about recycling and trash please share them here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ken Hutchins permalink
    November 30, 2010 9:21 pm

    Not sure how the City can fine people for not recycling their leaves, since today, three paper based bags with leaves (and less than 40 pounds each) were collected with the rest of the trash. Oh wait, this IS Philadelphia, never mind. It’s all about collecting fines and fees.

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