A project of Keep America Beautiful, America Recycles Day is the nationally recognized day dedicated to the promotion of recycling in the U.S. Since 1997, Americans have celebrated America Recycles Day on Novovember 15. Learn more about the program and how to participate.
Archive for the Recycling Category
February 17, 2009, is when television broadcasts transition to digital. You don’t have to throw away your television! One option is to buy a converter box. Buying a converter box is probably the more economic and sustainable choice but if you chose to buy a new television, please recycle your old set!
Mixed paper is a main source of confusion. According to the city web site, mixed paper includes “newspaper, magazines, mail, phone books, food boxes and more.” Apparently “more” includes catalogs, junk mail, advertising inserts, telephone books, food boxes (like cereal and cracker boxes), computer paper, fliers, and soda cartons.
Does this sound like any and all paper? Yes but according to Conservatree, “Most paper manufacturers say that the quality of the fiber materials they’re getting from single stream systems is problematic.” Recycling Today agrees. Treehugger notes that papers printed using an inkjet printer can ruin batches of recovered fibers. In the past, it was difficult to remove laser ink from paper without damaging the fibers although the process improved, so hopefully time will improve the recyclability of paper printed with inkjet printers. Unfortunately ink is becoming harder to remove as plastics are added to inks. The lesson: print less, which saves money, paper, trees, problematic inks, and recycling costs.
I called the Streets Departments’ customer service hotline to ask specific questions about recycling paper. Office paper is fine and there’s no need to remove the staples. Include envelopes with little plastic windows. Shredded paper qualifies (matching the types previously discussed) but you should put it in the bottom of your recycling container below heavier objects so it doesn’t blow all over the neighborhood. Pizza boxes are not okay because oil from the pizza can sink into the cardboard. Tin and aluminum foil are not paper–they are trash. Because recycling can be mixed together, there’s no need to put your newspapers in a paper grocery bag. It should be be placed into the sturdy container with your other recyclables.
So we really need to be careful to sort our paper properly. Careful sorting improves Philadelphia’s fiber content and raises the recycling rate. Keep out food-stained products. Include nearly everything else.
In 1987, Philadelphia became the first large city to pass a recycling law. Although that law made recycling mandatory, 93% of Philadelphia’s waste still goes to landfills. In fact, Philadelphia’s recycling efforts have waxed and waned many times over the years, with an initial program that served only 1/3 of the city, cuts from weekly to biweekly recycling pick-up, and restrictions on acceptable materials. Sadly the low recycling rate in Philadelphia reflects the ambivalence of past city governments (Rendell and Street), confusion about materials and schedules, and lack of enforcement or incentive (although saving the planet should be a pretty major incentive).
In July of this year, Single Stream Recycling expanded city wide. Now Philadelphians can easily recycle using any sturdy bin and by mixing together all of their materials. Simple, right? No, residents remain confused about what materials are acceptable. At our own house, we celebrated single stream by tossing material into the bin but began to realize that we’d become more liberal about our toss and to wonder if we should toss so freely. During the next few posts, Msphillyorganic will sort out some of the confusion.