Every Tuesday when recycling bins line his block near 16th and Dauphin streets, Ruben Gibbs said the one outside his house is always overflowing.
“Recycling basically doubles what we have for trash,” said Gibbs, who lives in a recovery house with 15 other people.
“A lot of people go out there and get their munchies, their soda cans and soda pop, and we recycle all of that,” he added, digging his hand into a small green bag of Herr’s potato chips.
Since Gibbs’ residence has an overabundance of recyclables, the Philadelphia Recycling Rewards Program – which will give residents who recycle points to use at grocery stores, restaurants and other business establishments beginning in North Philadelphia in February – will only help him buy more chips for a cheaper price, he said, adding that the financial incentive just might be enough for more community members to join in as well.
“[For] the people that are recycling now, [the program] is more of an incentive for them to keep on going with it,” Gibbs said. “But for the people that aren’t recycling, they are going to be looking at them saying, ‘They’re making money, so why can’t we make money too?’”
But after living in North Philadelphia for more than 10 years, Gibbs said the city should have introduced the program long ago.
“They should have done this a lot sooner,” Gibbs said, motioning toward an empty lot filled only by trash and recyclable items. “It would have helped a lot of people out more. The way trash is situated now, they just try to burn it and get rid of it or make a landfill out of it. Recycling helps you to reuse that stuff again.”
While the program might get more people to put their bottles in a recycling bin rather than a trash can, Gibbs said he doesn’t expect people to clean up the neighborhood just because they can earn rewards points.
“With the weather changing like it is now, I don’t think a lot of people will be out [collecting trash],” Gibbs said sporting a long-sleeve thermal and skullcap, traces from the previous day’s snowfall still covering nearby cars. “It’s a little chilly out here.”
Ashley Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.