In Philadelphia : Recycling Center All Trashed Out

Associated Press

So many people are obeying a new recycling law that newspapers were piled to the ceiling and trucks had to wait in line to drop trash at the local recycling center. The city finally closed the center.

The National Temple Recycling Center, the main one in the city, was inundated with newspapers, cans and plastics after the city expanded its mandatory curbside pickup program, which began this spring, from 49,000 households to 97,000 in northwestern Philadelphia.

The response amazed recycling officials, who thought it would take much longer to educate people about the ordinance requiring them to sort recyclables and leave them at the curb.

“Previous experiences led us to expect about 30% participation,” said Tom Klein of the Philadelphia Recycling Office. Instead, unofficial surveys place it at close to 90% in the new recycling zone.


“We’re planners and we try to do a good job of anticipation,” he said. “We just weren’t ready for that response.”

Neither was the recycling center. Almost within days, the ‘Previous experiences led us to expect about 30% participation (instead of the 90% who joined the effort). We’re planners and we try to do a good job of anticipation. We just weren’t ready for that response.’

Tom Klein

Philadelphia Recycling Office


amount of recycled materials received at the plant jumped from 12 tons a day to 35 tons.

Newspapers reached the ceiling. Bottles and cans gathered in mounds. A fenced-in area outside the plant, once a parking lot, became a storage area. Lines of recycling trucks waited to drop their cargo.

On June 16, the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections closed the plant because of dangerous, unhealthy conditions.

Since then the backlog has eased, except for newspapers. They are a special problem, because there is a newspaper glut on the recycling market, said Mjenzi Traylor, head of the plant. “It’s costing us $15 to $17 to bail a ton,” he said. “And for the most part, we’re getting $5 or less per ton.”


A recycling center in nearby Bucks County has volunteered to take some of the excess, but Traylor said that is only a temporary solution.

“We’re in a fortunate position because we have a number of major users of recycled paper here in the community,” said Klein.

Klein said the problems will not affect plans to expand the mandatory recycling program into the northeastern part of the city July 24.

He said the city has contracted with a separate recycling company, Waste Management, to handle the additional 45,000 households.