Philadelphia residents can now recycle their food and beverage cartons curbside, city officials announced on Tuesday.
Beginning immediately, residents can recycle their mixed material cartons from juice, milk, soup and other liquids in their curbside bins through a public-private partnership with the Carton Council, the city said.
“This is one of the last pieces of the easily-recyclable waste stream that’s left,” David Biddle, the city’s recycling coordinator, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re really winding down.”
Overall, Philadelphia officials are elated with the recent uptick in recycling. The city’s recycling rate jumped from 7 percent in 2008 to 20 percent in 2011 – reaching nearly 25 percent in some neighborhoods, Mayor Michael A. Nutter said.
Since cartons are relatively light compared to some other recyclables, the addition of mixed materials to the curbside program isn’t expected to have much effect on the city’s recycling rate. But adding them to the stream is a way to make recycling easier for residents, officials told The Philadephia Inquirer.
“The message is much simpler,” Biddle said in his interview with The Inquirer. “If it’s a consumer products package, it’s recyclable. That’s what we’ve done with our system.”
Once a material with very few recycling options, mixed materials – which are typically comprised of paper coated with polypropylene film or aluminum – are popping up on the “accepted” list in more and more American cities each year.
In 2009, only 18 percent of U.S. households had access to carton recycling programs, according to the Carton Council. Since the trade group formed in 2009, that number has doubled to almost 37 percent, with 42 million households in more than 40 states now able to recycle cartons curbside or at drop-off centers.