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City Boasts On-time Sanitation Schedule Despite Trashing Recycling Across City

City Boasts On-time Sanitation Schedule Despite Trashing Recycling Across City

As the city catches up on sanitation collections, recycling is still combined into the trash in many neighborhoods. Residents are upset.

“The Streets Department is pleased to announce that trash and recycling will start on a regular collection schedule,” said Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams in a press release on August 29th. 

After weeks of delays, Philadelphia’s Streets advised residents to set trash and recycling materials on their normal collection days. One piece of information missing from the city’s humblebrag is that they’re still trashing recycling.

“It’s Heartbreaking.”

Residents across the city, often in low-income neighborhoods like Kensington and Point Breeze, continue to send tips for trash and recycling being combined.

Point Breeze resident Sarah Bergstein has witnessed her trash and recycling being combined for two weeks. However, she’s been holding on to her recycling in an effort so it’s collected correctly by the city. “We check every week before we put our stuff out, to anticipate what the shift will be,” said Bergstein.

“It’s heartbreaking to know that people are invested in recycling and understand the merits of it; the consumer wants to recycle. You can do your hard work all week long to make sure that your items are separate, and then watch them get put in the same truck together.”

trash and recycling combined
trash and recycling being combined
Green Philly reader sent these photos of trash and recycling being combined in the Passyunk Square

Previously, Mayor Jim Kenney called these incidents “anecdotes,” blaming the weather, worker shortages, and even residents’ home DIY projects.

A Street Department spokesperson responded to the most recent incidents, that the comingling of materials is to keep collections on schedule.

“We are gradually returning back to normal collections for both trash and recycling. Our first priority was to return trash and recycling back to a normal collection schedule. Therefore there are times, when due to staff challenges, that we will collect it all together to keep both on schedule.”


The Municipal Waste Planning Recycling and Waste Reduction Act (Act 101), established in 1988, requires Pennsylvania’s larger municipalities to recycle. However, the city has not filed for an exception for the legislation since they have been and will “continue to run a modified version of our original program due to the pandemic, staffing, and server weather events,” according to Kelly Cofrancisco, Deputy Communications Director of Philadelphia.

According to Cofrancisco, “This is in line with the State requirements that say we must run some type of recycling program.” 

No word on when trash and recycling are expected to be returning to separate pickups across the city. According to the city spokesperson, “we are making progress with hiring additional temporary workers to allow us to return to separate trash and recycling collections.”

Broke in Philly
Green Philly is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on economic mobility. Read more at or follow at @brokeinphilly.

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher
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