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Business / Commercial

Successful Recycling Program in Philadelphia


What materials must be recycled? 

Businesses are required to separate out for recycling the same materials that are typically recycled through the residential curbside recycling program in Philadelphia. These materials must be separated from the trash at the point of generation.

8 Easy Steps to Getting Set Up:

1) Get management on board.
Getting management buy-in is critical to launching a successful program. This signals to employees, tenants and customers that recycling is important to your business and should be taken seriously.

2) Identify a recycling champion.
While it’s critical to have management on board, it’s also important to identify someone to “own” the recycling program – someone who is the point person for recycling questions and issues that might arise. This person could be at the management level, or it could be an employee who is particularly passionate about recycling. At larger businesses, it might be beneficial to have multiple people who can champion recycling in various departments.

3) Determine recycling needs.
You’ll be in a much better position to set up a cost-effective recycling program if you know how much of your waste stream is recyclable. Many businesses can determine recycling needs by simply visually inspecting their trash to get a sense what kind of waste they generate and in what quantities. 

4) Line up a licensed hauler.
If a private hauler picks up your trash, you can simply approach them about adding recycling pick-up. However, you might want to take this opportunity to shop around and see if another hauler can offer services that better suit your needs or a better rate.  

If you receive city collection and pay the $300 solid waste resources fee, you can simply set out your recycling for collection on the same day as your trash is picked up. Recycling can be set out in any durable, rigid container of 32-gallon capacity or less marked with the word “Recycling.”

5) File your Recycling Plan with the City.
All businesses are required to file a Recycling Plan with the City. Filing is easy, and you can do it via a one-page form online, click here.

6) Get everyone on board.
Buy-in from all stakeholders is the key component of any recycling program, and to make yours successful, everyone needs to be on board, from upper management to janitorial staff. Meet with housekeeping staff to inform them of the new recycling program and solicit their feedback on how to best make it work. 

Posting your Recycling Plan and distributing copies to all employees and tenants is a good step, but you may want to send out a memo or have a quick meeting to let everyone know that your business is implementing a recycling program, what materials will now be recycled, and how it might impact their daily activities. This will give employees and tenants an opportunity to ask any questions they may have.

Some haulers will provide you with educational tools or even on-site training, so be sure to ask yours for any help. The City also makes educational and promotional tools available on its website.

7) Make sure recycling is easy and bins are abundant.
Most people want to do the right thing and recycle, but the demands of a busy work schedule can make it difficult if recycling bins are hard to access or it’s unclear what to recycle. Here are some tips to make it easy for employees and tenants:

  • Strategically locate recycling bins next to trash receptacles so it’s just as easy to recycle as it is to throw something in the trash.
  • Take the guesswork out of recycling by locating signage in a prominent place at each trash and recycling station so it’s easy to know whether an item is recyclable or trash. The City offers downloadable flyers, posters, and recycling bin labels on its website, click here.
  • If your employees have individual workstations, place recycling bins at each workstation.

8) Start recycling!
Congratulations! You’re on your way to having a successful recycling program at your business! After a few months, you should reevaluate your program and determine whether any adjustments need to be made.