Tag Archives: philadelphia

Better Big Bellies In Philly? Yes Please.

Over the last few months, I’ve developed a habit of taking pictures of Big Bellies in sorry shape.

Philly has quite the love/hate relationship with them, but the bottom line is that they do a better job of collecting waste than wire baskets ever could.

The Big Belly compactors absolutely cut down on trucks on the road, bags used, and labor time…that is, if the program is being managed correctly.

According to this  2013 Syracuse article featuring Alan Butkovitz, that’s exactly the problem, and he’s still complaining about it nearly three years later in this CBS article, too.

He has a point- if they’re not being consistently maintained according to plan, you’ll get overflowing units everywhere.  If they’re being pulled too soon, that’s not optimal either.

I tend to side with Carlton Williams at this point- maybe Butkovitz’s concerns were legit in 2013, but hopefully they’ve been corrected since then?  I guess that’s the question.

Williams says they’re still saving the city $650,000 a year, which does sound like a low figure.  That all depends on what the calculation is based on- I would imagine it includes reduced labor, fuel, materials and recyclable material value.

The wireless network issue mentioned in the article is a real disappointment- this would definitely lead to missed service resembling my pictures at the top.

At that point, however, you’d just have to guesstimate how often to make your runs and you’re potentially losing the benefits of the system.

The good news going forward is that Philadelphia is about add 275 brand new units with the foot pedal upgrade- this will definitely encourage more usage.

The old Philly units actually favor contaminating the recycling due to the receptacle being an open void- no compaction, no grimy handle to worry about.

I have quite a bit of experience with auditing collected materials from the newer units, and the compliance due to making both receptacles designed the same is near-perfect.

In today’s lousy recyclables market, the potential reduced contamination can only help the city generate quality material and hopefully increase rebates.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the recent CBS article is the free maintenance/free of charge upgrade in exchange for free reign of advertising on them.

I really like the city units that have the mural art designs on them- it’ll be interesting to watch what Big Belly ends up doing with the ad space…Coca Cola and some lame PA oil/gas propaganda?

I hope the ads won’t be on the front side, at least… the city needs that space to specify what goes in each.

Whether you like them or not, they are the best way to collect waste in a public setting.

I’m happy that the city is upgrading the units and you should be, too.

Have an Idea for a Compost System?

compost contest

Have you ever wanted to design your own composter?

The Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council is seeking designs for neighborhood-scale, in-vessel composting systems that can be used by schools and community organizations.

Successful designs will be:

• Fully-enclosed and rodent-proof
• Able to function year-round outdoors in Philadelphia’s climate
• One to three cubic yards in capacity
• Easily constructed and maintained

The winner receives a $500 prize and recognition for their design by the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability and the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council!

Compost is the nutrient-rich, earthy-smelling material created by the managed decomposition of organic matter. Community composting transforms organic matter into valuable soil amendments, keeps organic waste in a local closed-loop system, and engages communities through participation and education.

Submit designs by March 15, 2017.   Finalists’ designs will be selected by March 29.  If you are a finalist, we will provide funding for you to build your design.

Finished compost systems will need to be transported to a testing site in Philadelphia by April 26.  Finalist compost systems will then be tested over the summer, and a winner will be announced in Fall 2017.

Visit www.phillyfpac.org/compost for more information, including a full list of specs and requirements.

Pa. bill would tax 2 cents on each new plastic bag (article)

Originally posted here, but I had to repost it: http://articles.philly.com/2013-08-23/news/41437636_1_plastic-bags-100-billion-bags-leach

HARRISBURG – An area lawmaker wants Pennsylvania shoppers to BYOB (bring your own bag) or pay a fee.

Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) has introduced a bill aimed at reducing the volume of plastic bags in the trash by imposing a two-cent fee on each new bag used by shoppers.

One penny of the fee would go to state recycling programs, and the other would go to the retailer to help with its recycling.

Leach said his bill – like those already enacted in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Washington – would encourage customers to shop with reusable bags while reducing landfill waste.

“Two cents is a small price to pay for a cleaner, more vibrant planet,” Leach said, who set up an easel with facts about plastic bags and a bag-recycling box outside his Capitol office. “However, our goal is not to collect the fee, but to encourage shoppers to make sustainable choices at the checkout counter.”

Statistics show that the typical family uses 60 plastic bags in four trips to the grocery store, he said.

No states have yet to enact such fees, but legislatures in New Jersey, New York, and Vermont are considering implementing them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Lawmakers in Maryland (where at least two municipalities, the City of Takoma Park and Montgomery County, already have bag fees) this year introduced a statewide five-cent-a-bag fee, but it failed to win passage before the session ended this spring.

This week, several New York City Council members proposed a 10-cents-per-bag tax.

Kevin Shrivers, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses of Pennsylvania, called Leach’s proposal a “tax scheme” that would hurt average families and benefit only makers of reusable cloth bags – many of them foreign.

“It’s a tax on the consumer,” Shrivers said. “Leach’s assumption is that the plastic bags are used one time and thrown away, but people use those bags over and over.”

But Leach said only 1 percent of the 100 billion bags used in this country every year are recycled, while the rest end up in landfills or clogging the oceans and killing wildlife.

“Most shopping trips take a half-hour to complete, but the bag stays around for 1,000 to 5,000 years,” Leach said. “Not everything we do is about instant momentary convenience. We have to give some thought to the planet.”