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    Recycling can offset impact of proposed trash fee

    Philadelphians are still taking in Mayor Michael Nutter’s announcement yesterday that he wants to charge residents a $300 yearly trash pickup fee. The Mayor is encouraging residents to offset some of the fee by recycling.
    In his budget address, Mayor Nutter said Philadelphians can recoup some of the trash fee by doing the right thing with bottles and cans.

    Philadelphians are still taking in Mayor Michael Nutter’s announcement yesterday  that he wants to charge residents a $300 yearly trash pickup fee.  The Mayor is encouraging residents to offset some of the fee by recycling.
    WHYY’s Elizabeth Fiedler reports.

    [audio:100305LFRECYCLING.mp3]

    In his budget address, Mayor Nutter said Philadelphians can recoup some of the trash fee by doing the right thing with bottles and cans.

    Nutter: Residents who recycle each week and get their neighbors to do the same
    can easily save $100 a year and as much as $400 in rewards, including
    discounts on supermarket or drug store purchases and entertainment and clothing venues.

    Some residents are ready to do what the mayor suggests.

    At a recent city recycling event, Armanda Rivera stopped to pick up a new recycling bin for her house near 5th and Lehigh.

    Rivera: The block that I live on – everybody recycles. I don’t really be (sic) outside so I don’t really know the neighbors I just see the buckets outside so I know everybody recycles.

    It is easy to register for the city’s new Recycling Rewards program.  After signing up, a bar-coded sticker for the recycling bin arrives in the mail. Then the points add up each time the truck picks up recycling.

    Sounds simple, but in practice it can get complicated.

    Each house’s rewards are based not just on that house’s recycling record but on how much is collected along the route.

    After the truck picks up those cans and bottles, there’s still work to be done to save money.

    The points don’t translate directly into dollars – but into discounts and coupons you select online.

    In some cases the savings are obvious: For 50 points you can get ACME coupons for $5 off a $25 Party Tray or $1 off baby basics.

    With some of the discounts and rewards, the savings aren’t cut and dried. A good amount of planning and some time with a calculator are called for.

    Here’s a scenario provided by RecycleBank, the company that’s running the program for the city:  Say a family has racked up 185 points. It can save $34 by using 20 points to save $2 each on two haircuts, 20 points to cover $2 off admission for up to four people to the Please Touch Museum, 100 pts to get $25 off picture restoration at Take 2 Photo, and the remaining 10 points to pick up three $1 off $5 or more spent at Rita’s Water Ice.

    Some folks might enjoy all that wheeling and dealing.  RecyleBank has increased recycling rates in some towns, like Cherry Hill. Other penny-pinching Philadelphians might end up wishing the city would just deduct their “recycling rewards” from their weekly trash fee.

    The Recycling Rewards program started in February and by July it’s expected to be citywide.

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