Tidbit Tuesday | Residential Recycling Diversion Rates

On Tuesdays, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) posts a map or graphic that tells a story about transportation or utilities in the City of Brotherly Love.

To build on last week’s post about litter, we decided to take a look at residential recycling diversion data provided by the Streets Department. One of the main ways we can reduce the amount of waste going to Philadelphia’s landfills is by recycling.  But have Philadelphians gotten better at recycling over the years?

Tidbit Tuesday_Recycling [Converted]-01

The maps above show the residential recycling diversion rates for each recycling district during fiscal years 2001, 2005, 2009, and 2013.  A residential recycling diversion rate indicates the ratio of material recycled (in tons) to material sent to landfill (in tons) by residents in a given fiscal year. This means, for example, that in the recycling districts shaded the darkest blue above, over a year residents recycled roughly a third of what they threw away, by weight. Importantly, these figures do not include any commercial or construction & demolition recycling in the public and private sectors. They also do not include any waste to energy processing. As the maps show, in the past 13 years, residential recycling diversion rates have increased throughout the city. In 2001, only residential districts in the Northwest and Northeast had recycling diversion rates above 7%; in 2013, almost every recycling district had a rate of at least 14%.  Of course, these data tell only part of the story of waste management in the city. To dig into these data, and others on city waste, check out the recent EcoCamp data release here.

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