Friday, December 12, 2008

Philadelphia on the Environmental Forefront?

I've been hearing some good things about Philadelphia's environmental initiatives lately. Reportedly, Philadelphia used to have a very inconvenient curbside recycling service. It was every other week, with shifting schedules that didn't coincide with trash pickup. The recycling rate was down around 7%, or some such.

But all this has changed. Recycling curbside pickup is now weekly, on the same day as trash pickup, and residents can throw all recyclables in one container, rather than sorting by type. The program is called "All Together Now!", with a snappy website to go along with it ( The website includes a recycling game in which you race the clock while clicking and dragging various items to a recycling or trash bin on the screen. I recommend playing it with the sound (an obnoxious siren) turned off.

In any case, compare the convenience of the Philadelphia system to that of Princeton, where recycling is every other week, and collection is still dual stream. Though Princeton just signed a contract to continue with the current system for another year and a half, it will be worth researching options in the future.

I've also heard that Philadelphia's energy company has recently completed installing smart meters citywide. Smart meters are frequently mentioned as a top priority if we are to dramatically reduce our energy use. In New Jersey, PSE&G installed a few demos here and there, but has reportedly abandoned any large scale conversion. Instead, the utility is said to be investing heavily in wind energy off the coast.

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