Have you ever wondered how Philadelphia’s parks and playgrounds stay so clean? The maintenance workers who manage trash and recycling deserve a special thanks for that! Every day, Parks & Rec employees pick up trash in various locations at our parks, rec centers, and playgrounds.

Recently, Parks & Rec sites in Operations District 7 (South Philadelphia) have increased their recycling efforts. Now, you can easily find royal blue recycling bins at our sites in South Philly. If you’re not sure what you can place in these bins, read this refresher.

Here’s what happens with the recyclables:

  1. Each week, employees empty and sort materials in the recycling bins.
  2. The items are brought to a local sanitation convenience center for more sorting. Every major neighborhood in Philadelphia has a sanitation convenience center. The centers have machines that sort the items into piles of glass, paper, plastic, and metal.
  3. Next, the recyclables go to facilities managed by Waste Management. The City pays Waste Management to sort the items and send them to other sites for compaction and reuse.

One of the superstars of District 7 recycling is Leonard Davis. He has worked for Parks & Rec since 1988. Leonard and his team collect recycling from the parks then take it to the operations center at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park. Their route starts at FDR Park and visits many sites including Starr Garden Playground and Chew Playground. When the program first began, the crew would collect recycling with a compactor truck. Now, they use a pickup truck to reduce emissions while driving around the district.

So far the program is successful, but Leonard and his crew often encounter problems with dumping. Sometimes, park visitors will dump trash from their homes into the park recycling bins. This is illegal and residents would be fined, if caught. The most common items dumped in recycling bins are home electronic devices and building materials. Recyclables cannot be sent to recycling centers once contaminated. Leonard and the other Parks & Rec employees work hard to decrease dumping and to increase recycling so our sites stay beautiful.

The City of Philadelphia is taking steps to tackle illegal dumping. We want residents to get involved by reporting illegal dumping and becoming advocates for cleaner neighborhoods.