Watching Waste at Philadelphia Events

The Waste Watchers Program had a strong finish at the Philly Cycling Classic on June 1st, topping off a busy spring season of waste diversion at Philadelphia events. Waste Watchers, a sustaWaste_LemonHillinability initiative created through a partnership among the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service, the Office of the City Representative, and the Mayor’s Office of Reintegration Services, started at the Philadelphia Marathon in 2011 to divert waste away from landfills. Waste Watchers operated exclusively at the Marathon until this year when the City received a $50,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to expand the program to other major Philadelphia events.

The Waste Watchers team recruited over 250 volunteers to educate attendees at the Philadelphia Science Carnival, the Broad Street Run, and the Philly Cycling Classic on how to sort their waste into the proper compost, recycling, and trash receptacles. Waste Watchers did an incredible job diverting waste from landfills, with some even volunteering at two events in one weekend! Their efforts resulted in a 70% waste diversion rate average over the spring events.

Thank you to all of the volunteers who dedicated their time and energy towards waste diversion with admirable enthusiasm!



Waste-Watchers Get 2013 Marathon Results

It took a bit longer to tally than the runners’ times, but today brings great news from our friends at SCA:

According to the report, of the 29.3 tons of waste generated at the 2013 Marathon, approximately 85.7 percent, or 25.1 tons was diverted from landfill.   This indicates an increase over the 2012 Marathon, where 24.7 tons of waste was diverted.  The City’s projections for the 2013 Marathon were an 85 percent diversion rate.

See the full press release at SCA’s website. The next Waste-Watchers volunteer opportunity will be at the Philly Cycling Classic on June 1st. If you’re interested in helping Philadelphia meet its waste diversion targets at this event, RSVP at this link.

Looking Ahead to Greenworks 2014

Note: This blog is the first in a series of posts going behind the scenes of the process of producing the 2014 progress report for Greenworks Philadelphia.


An in-progress look at laying out the 2014 Greenworks update.

With only two years left before the conclusion of Mayor Nutter’s second term in office, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS) is preparing the fifth Greenworks progress report. This year, we want to give partners and stakeholders in Philadelphia and beyond a peek at how these progress reports are put together.

As a first step, our team is thinking about those areas where Philadelphia has made some of the biggest strides in the five Greenworks goal areas (energy, environment, equity, economy, and engagement) over the past year, and where the most exciting opportunities for 2014 will be. Here are a few we’ve considered:

  • Greenhouse Gas inventories and climate adaptation strategy:  Both MOS and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) are continuing to track greenhouse gas emissions. Our office will release new data in 2014 highlighting some of the keys trends in emissions (and prime opportunities for emissions abatement). But it’s not enough to just monitor emissions. This spring, MOS will meet with agencies throughout city government to help draft an action plan to adapt Philadelphia’s critical infrastructure and services to a changing climate.
  • Municipal and citywide building benchmarking: MOS recently released a report on the energy usage of municipally-owned buildings for 2011, and results for large non-residential buildings 50,000 square feet or larger for both 2012 and 2013 energy and water usage will be released later this year. Benchmarking helps building owners and operators track their utility usage over time and compare that usage to a national average. Buildings can use this information to reduce their bills and their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Food Policy Advisory Council: Thanks to the hard work of FPAC coordinator Hannah Chatterjee, the City’s commitment to improving access to healthy and farm-fresh food is stronger than ever. Hannah will be writing more about FPAC’s work on this blog in the coming weeks.
  • Bike Share: Our office is excited to be supporting the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities in the upcoming launch of the citywide bike share network. The City is currently considering several proposals for the program, and we hope to be writing much more about it in Greenworks 2014 (and using the bikes this fall!).
  • Waste Watchers:  At the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon, hundreds of volunteers once again gave their time to help divert waste to recycling while cheering on the city’s runners. MOS is excited to be expanding this program in 2014 thanks to a grant by the Bloomberg Foundation, which will help support Waste Watchers volunteers at six events between now and Spring 2015—including the 2014 Philadelphia Marathon.

What are you hoping to see MOS cover in Greenworks 2014? Respond below or tweet us @GreenworksPhila to share your thoughts.

City of Philadelphia Releases Serve Philadephia 3-Year Progress Report

October 30, 2013 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service released the SERVE Philadelphia 3-Year Progress Report, which outlines the City’s efforts to strategically engage citizens in addressing local challenges, particularly in the areas of education, food security, community revitalization and youth engagement.

“By uniting volunteers from different organizations around common goals, we are maximizing their collective impact and empowering citizens with diverse expertise to invest their time and talent in Philadelphia’s future,” said Mayor Nutter. “This effort has led to truly great things for the City of Philadelphia: thousands of adults coaching high school students to graduation, a significant increase in volunteers working with adult learners, stronger Park Friends Groups, greater collaboration between programs that serve our seniors, and many other volunteer-led initiatives that make our communities safer, stronger and more vibrant.”

Highlights of the report include:

· About 50 AmeriCorps VISTAs serving in City departments have engaged over 10,000 volunteers since 2010 in advancing priority initiatives, including the Mayor’s Graduation Coach Campaign and the PhillyRising Collaborative.

· 70,000 citizens have participated in the annual Philly Spring Clean Up since 2008, clearing more than 8 million pounds of trash and recycling from city streets and neighborhood parks.

· 110,000 individuals have visited since January 2011, 30% of whom return on a regular basis to sign up for volunteer opportunities.

“The success of SERVE Philadelphia is far from the story of a single office or initiative. Instead, it reflects the collective commitment of City departments, working in partnership with Philadelphia’s outstanding non-profit sector and civically minded corporate community, to increase both the rate and impact of volunteer service,” said Catie C. Wolfgang, Chief Service Officer and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service. “Most of all, it is a testimony to the willingness of every day citizens to roll up their sleeves and get to work on the challenges we face as a community.”


Philadelphia, January 22, 2013– The City of Philadelphia and Recyclebank were selected for the Outstanding Award in Public/Private Partnerships by the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). The award honors the partnership’s success in building a more sustainable city by increasing recycling participation among community members and diverting more waste from landfills.


“As Philadelphia strives to be the greenest city in America, we are focused on forging partnerships that help us reach our sustainability goals, increase community engagement and stimulate the local economy,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “In working with us to create Philadelphia Recycling Rewards, Recyclebank has been a strong partner and has helped Philadelphia to reach new heights of urban sustainability and national environmental leadership.”


The award was presented Saturday, January 19 at the USCM 81stWinter Meeting. The Excellence in Public/Private Partnership Awards were established by the USCM to recognize the achievements made possible by the partnerships between the member companies of the Mayors Business Council and cities across the nation. Mayor Nutter and Erika Diamond, vice president of community solutions at Recyclebank, accepted the award.


“Philadelphia’s strides in building a more sustainable and smarter city is testament to the impact that partnerships between public entities and private corporations can create,” said Diamond. “By rewarding residents for taking more everyday green actions like recycling, Philadelphia has increased recycling rates in the face of stagnant national average rates and helped residents realize the financial benefits of making more sustainable choices.”


In summer 2008, the City of Philadelphia made a commitment to sustainability by expanding its recycling program, switching to a single-stream recycling system. In February 2010, the City furthered its commitment by partnering with Recyclebank and offering more than 540,000 household residents the opportunity to get rewards for recycling at home with the program, Philadelphia Recycling Rewards. In addition to rewards for recycling, the partnership has raised awareness and education for recycling, both critical components to recycling behavior change. Because of these combined efforts, the City has increased the total amount of residential recycling collected by nearly 20,000 tons and its curbside recycling diversion rate is up four percentage points since the Recycling Rewards Program was implemented Citywide in July 2010.


“The Philadelphia Streets Department is very proud to be the co-recipient of the Outstanding Award in Public/Private Partnerships with our partner Recyclebank,” said Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson. “The award signifies how far Philadelphia has come in its recycling efforts and supporting Mayor Nutter’s vision for Philadelphia to be the most viable and environmentally conscious city in the country,” Tolson said. “Philadelphia Recycling Rewards allows us to give back to residents who have made recycling a priority in their community. This program not only makes the City greener by increasing recycling rates and saving the City from costly landfill fees; it puts more green in the pockets of local residents by giving them points redeemable at local businesses.”


Philadelphia Recycling Rewards, powered by Recyclebank, rewards residents for recycling with discounts and deals from locally-based businesses and national brands. For more information on the program, please visit



For more information about the Philadelphia Streets Department, visit:



Recyclebank helps create a more sustainable future by rewarding people for taking everyday green actions with discounts and deals from more than 4,000 local businesses and national brands. Through its online platform and partnerships with municipalities, haulers, small businesses and corporate brands, Recyclebank empowers individuals to make a collective impact on the environment by increasing household recycling and taking other environmentally-friendly actions. A Certified B Corporation, Recyclebank has been recognized as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, a Champion of the Earth by the United Nations Environment Program and for Outstanding Excellence in Public/Private Partnerships from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Recyclebank is headquartered in New York City. For more information, visit


Philadelphia, January 14, 2013– Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the Philadelphia Streets Department announced the launch of a new program called “Philly Future Track,” which will provide job-skills training and real-world work experience to 130 young adults in Philadelphia. Using service as a strategy to build civic and environmental stewardship, Philly Future Track will provide individuals with a paid position involving community service and other life and career building skills during a six-month period.


“Philadelphia, like many big cities, faces the challenges of unemployment and city cleanliness, which both have significant impact on the City as a whole,” said Mayor Nutter. “Philly Future Track is a smart strategy to address these challenges by investing in the development and job readiness of Philadelphia’s young adult population. Participants will gain valuable skills to prepare them for future employment while they engage in public service beautifying Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.”


This program will provide a temporary employment opportunity to participants who will assist with cleaning and beautification projects in key areas throughout Philadelphia. The program is designed to be a career readiness pipeline, providing the participants with enough resources and education to transition into full time employment, attend a 2 or 4 year higher education institution, enter into a vocational training program/school or be prepared to take the military aptitude test.


The participants were not previously enrolled in higher education and were unemployed. For three days a week over the course of six months, participants will work in teams on neighborhood beautification projects with direction from the Streets Department. The remaining two days are spent in the classroom, where participants will learn job readiness skills.


“Philly Future Track is designed to create stronger citizens who live, work and serve in their communities,” said Streets Commissioner Clarena I.W. Tolson. “By instilling self-sustainability and civic pride in Philadelphia’s young adults, they will be better prepared to take the next steps towards developing long-term careers, and in turn, improve the City as a whole.”


Philly Future Track is made possible by the partnerships of several city and community organizations. The City of Philadelphia, Department of Streets, Mayor’s Office of Community Services (MOCS), Philadelphia Organized to Witness Empower & Rebuild (POWER), Community Women’s Education Project (CWEP) and Community Marketing Concepts are all investing in the futures of both Philadelphia’s young adult population and the City of Philadelphia as a whole.


The Philly Future Track program is still seeking participants. If interested, please visit for more information and to learn how to apply.


For more information on the Department of Streets, please visit   For more information on MOCS, please visit  For more information on POWER, please visit  For more information on CWEP, please visit For more information on Community Marketing Concepts, please

City Of Philadelphia to Celebrate America Recycles Day on November 15

November 14, 2012 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that the City of Philadelphia’s official America Recycles Day celebration will be on Thursday, November 15 at various city locations. America Recycles Day, a Keep America Beautiful program, is the nation’s only community-driven national awareness initiative dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States.

“Recycling is a cornerstone of my commitment to making Philadelphia the greenest city in the U.S., and it’s   one of the easiest things we can do every day to help conserve natural resources, save energy, create green jobs,” said Mayor Nutter.  “Participating in America Recycles Day in Philadelphia is the best way to celebrate the progress Philadelphia has made in recent years through City initiatives and programs”

Recycling in Philadelphia has made significant strides during the past few years, with more than 120,000 tons of recyclables collected through the City’s curbside recycling program in fiscal year 2012 (July 2011 – June 2012) – an increase of 137% over totals from just five years ago. According to the City’s Recycling Office and Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Philadelphia’s recycling efforts helped reduce greenhouse gas the equivalent of nearly 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide during 2011.

“The program changes the Streets Department implemented starting a few years ago, including the switch to ‘single-stream’ and weekly pickup, have not only helped boost program participation, but also increase operational efficiencies,” said Commissioner Clarena Tolson. “Philadelphia’s ever-evolving recycling efforts are forging our way to become the greenest city in America.”

Philadelphia’s recycling efforts do not stop at residential curbside pickup. In FY12, approximately 2,000 tons of other recyclables including leaves, brush, and electronics were also collected either at curbside, at the City’s sanitation convenience centers or at special electronics and household hazardous waste collection events.

Other notable recycling and waste reduction opportunities that were initiated during the past year include:

  • Distribution of more than 2,000 recycling bins to residents during the council district’s recycling days;
  • Addition of beverage cartons and drink boxes to the curbside recycling program through a partnership with the U.S. Carton Council;
  • Increased opportunities to recycle in public places through the City’s Big Belly recycling containers; and
  • Partnership with the Philadelphia Water Department and Insinkerator, Inc. to assess benefits of using in-sink disposal units for food waste in two Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Since the inception of America Recycles Day in 1997, communities across the country have organized events in November to promote recycling awareness, commitment and action. Last year during America Recycles Day, some 2 million people took part in more than 2,000 events across the nation.

The America Recycles Day events set to take place in Philadelphia on November 15 include:

John B. Kelly Elementary School America Recycles Day Celebration

Location: 5116 Pulaski Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19144

Date: Nov. 15, 2012

Time: 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Event Description: Recognition of recycling effort among 2nd graders and remarks by Streets Department Commissioner Clarena I. W, Tolson


America Recycles Day Celebration

Location:  Liacouras Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19122

Date: Nov. 15, 2012 – Nov. 15, 2012

Time: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Event Description: A combination of student organizations and university departments will be tabling to raise awareness about recycling and waste minimization services available on campus.



Rose Recreation Center America Recycles Day

Location: Rose Recreation Center, 75th and Lansdowne, Philadelphia, PA 19151

Date: Nov. 15, 2012 – Nov. 15, 2012

Time: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Event Description: Educational Event at Rose Recreation Center


2012 PHL America Recycles Day Celebration

Location: Terminal B-C Food Court, Philadelphia International Airport Terminal B-C, Philadelphia, PA 19153

Date: Nov. 15, 2012 – Nov. 15, 2012

Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Event Description: Promote recycling and environmental awareness through a variety of educational activities that are both informative and fun. Several exhibitors will also be on hand to help promote recycling at PHL and across the Philadelphia region. PHL passengers and employees are encouraged to participate in this event.


Recycling Bin Give-a-Way

Location: Frankford CDC, 4900 Griscom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19124

Date: Nov. 15, 2012 – Nov. 15, 2012

Time: noon – 5 p.m.

Event Description: Recycling education and bin give-a-way event.



Recycle Philly -After Party

Location: Fado, 1500 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19103

Date: Nov. 15, 2012 – Nov. 15, 2012

Time: 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Event Description: Celebrate Recycling Day 2012 with a drink, and a discussion on how to help restaurants and bars in Philly do a better job recycling.


City Council District Recycling Bin Give-Away
Date: November 17th, 2012
Location: Councilman O’Neill Councilman’s District Office (District 10), Bustleton & Bowler St.
Time: 9:00am – 11:30 a.m.

For more information on any Philadelphia recycling programs, please visit the recycling website at or Residents may also call the Streets Department’s Customer Affairs Unit at 215-686-5560, or call 3-1-1.