Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Presented to the Faculties of the University of Pennsylvania in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Environmental Studies 2006.
Advisor: Professor S. Laskowski


The city of Philadelphia was one of the first in the United States to introduce curb-side collection of residential recycling. Since recycling was introduced in 1987 however, Philadelphia has failed to achieve a waste diversion rate (the percentage of total waste from a specified area that is diverted from disposal at landfills through reduction, reuse, and recycling programs) greater than 7%. Currently, Philadelphia is ranked 7th out of 8 in waste diversion programs in American cities with populations over a million. This report analyzes Philadelphia’s recycling program, where it has come from and what is preventing it from progressing. Among other suggestions, this report recommends integrating recycling education and collection in Philadelphia public schools, expanding the single-stream pilot program, and reducing the volume of trash collected at curb-side to cooperatively improve the overall success of Philadelphia’s recycling program.



Date Posted: 12 May 2006