1. The Gentrification Problem: The Environmental Crisis of Unaffordable Housing
  2. The Roots Run Deep: The Environmental Crisis of Unaffordable Housing
  3. There Is No Cost to Live: The Environmental Crisis of Unaffordable Housing
  4. Fixing Up Philly’s Homes: Charles Ellison for WHYY
  5. Punishment Past Prison Walls: Environmental injustice in the Carceral State
  6. RACISM IN THE WATER
  7. THE “INFLATION REDUCTION ACT” IS NOW LAW. SO, HOW DOES IT HELP BLACK PHILLY?
  8. PHILADELPHIA HAS AN AIR TOXIN PROBLEM. WHAT IS THE CITY GOVERNMENT GOING TO DO TO FIX IT?
  9. Want to end gun violence now? Let’s save Philly block by block
  10. Here are steps Philly could take to cool urban heat islands
  11. The gas prices conversation we should be having
  12. Reclaiming Black land is challenging but not impossible
  13. Black clergy: Churches can sway views on climate crisis
  14. Can old Philadelphia refineries be cleaned up and restored?
  15. Here’s how Black Philadelphia can help in the environmental justice battle
  16. City Launches Environmental Justice Advisory Commission
  17. FIXING THE STRUGGLE SPACE
  18. SOLAR POLICIES ARE FALLING BEHIND – SO, HOW DO WE CATCH UP?
  19. IS PHILLY’S “TAP” WATER PROGRAM WORKING?
  20. Ian Harris
  21. Melissa Ostroff
  22. THE WATER BILLS ARE WAY TOO HIGH
  23. THE KEY TO APPROACHING FRONTLINE COMMUNITIES ON ALL THINGS GREEN
  24. ICYMI: Watch highlights, panels at ecoWURD’s 2021 Environmental Justice Summit
  25. BLACK MOTHERS NEED CLEANER & SAFER ENVIRONMENTS – IT’S A PUBLIC HEALTH IMPERATIVE
  26. USING DANCE TO SAVE A RIVER
  27. TRACKING PHILADELPHIA’S AIR QUALITY
  28. GETTING RELIGIOUS ON CLIMATE CRISIS
  29. WE NEED MORE BLACK PEOPLE IN AGRICULTURE
  30. WHEN THERE’S NO CLEAN ENVIRONMENT, WE HAVE NOTHING
  31. A PREMATURE END TO EVICTION MORATORIUMS
  32. THE LACK OF BELIEF IN CLIMATE CRISIS IS JUST AS MUCH A THREAT
  33. YOU CAN’T HAVE RACIAL JUSTICE WITHOUT FAIR HOUSING
  34. RUN OVER THE SYSTEMS: THE FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM
  35. PENNSYLVANIA IS “WAY BEHIND” ON SOLAR. HOW DOES IT CATCH UP?
  36. Pandemic Relief For Black Farmers Still Is Not Enough
  37. A BLUEPRINT FOR THE NEXT URBANISM
  38. THAT ELECTRONIC & CLOTHING WASTE PILES UP. SO WHERE TO PUT IT?
  39. THE WOMB IS THE FIRST ENVIRONMENT
  40. WILL THERE BE ANY MASS TRANSIT LEFT AFTER PANDEMIC?
  41. A FRIDGE FOR EVERYONE WHO’S HUNGRY
  42. OLD SCHOOL FOSSIL FUEL ECONOMY VS. NEW SCHOOL CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY
  43. ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE IS THE TOP SOCIAL JUSTICE PRIORITY
  44. IN 2020, DID “BIG GREEN” BECOME LESS WHITE?
  45. CLIMATE ACTION CAN POWER OUR RECOVERY
  46. IN PANDEMIC, AN HBCU DOES IT BETTER
  47. A DANGEROUS LACK OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE PROTECTIONS
  48. HOW FAST CAN A BIDEN PRESIDENCY MOVE ON CLIMATE ISSUES?
  49. CRAFTING A BLACK-DRIVEN CORONAVIRUS AND CLIMATE “STIMULUS” AGENDA
  50. Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia school district to help public school children
  51. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  52. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  53. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  54. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  55. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  56. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  57. THE PLAN FOR A 100 PERCENT CLEAN FUTURE IS SAVING NATURE
  58. WHAT SHOULD A PRESIDENT’S ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AGENDA LOOK LIKE?
  59. THE NEED FOR ABOLITIONIST TEACHING
  60. PUBLIC LANDS & SAVING NATURE
  61. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  62. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  63. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  64. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  65. THE NATURE GAP
  66. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  67. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  68. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  69. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  70. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  71. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  72. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  73. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  74. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  75. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  76. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  77. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  78. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  79. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  80. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  81. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  82. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  83. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  84. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  85. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  86. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  87. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  88. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  89. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  90. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  91. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  92. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  93. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  94. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  95. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  96. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  97. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  98. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  99. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  100. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  101. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  102. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  103. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  104. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  105. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  106. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  107. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  108. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  109. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  110. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  111. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  112. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  113. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  114. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  115. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  116. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  117. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  118. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  119. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  120. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  121. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  122. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  123. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  124. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  125. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  126. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  127. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  128. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  129. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  130. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  131. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  132. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  133. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  134. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  135. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  136. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  137. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  138. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  139. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  140. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  141. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  142. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  143. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  144. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  145. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  146. Are You Going to Drink That?
  147. The Origins of ecoWURD
  148. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  149. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  150. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  151. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess
Monday, January 30, 2023
  1. The Gentrification Problem: The Environmental Crisis of Unaffordable Housing
  2. The Roots Run Deep: The Environmental Crisis of Unaffordable Housing
  3. There Is No Cost to Live: The Environmental Crisis of Unaffordable Housing
  4. Fixing Up Philly’s Homes: Charles Ellison for WHYY
  5. Punishment Past Prison Walls: Environmental injustice in the Carceral State
  6. RACISM IN THE WATER
  7. THE “INFLATION REDUCTION ACT” IS NOW LAW. SO, HOW DOES IT HELP BLACK PHILLY?
  8. PHILADELPHIA HAS AN AIR TOXIN PROBLEM. WHAT IS THE CITY GOVERNMENT GOING TO DO TO FIX IT?
  9. Want to end gun violence now? Let’s save Philly block by block
  10. Here are steps Philly could take to cool urban heat islands
  11. The gas prices conversation we should be having
  12. Reclaiming Black land is challenging but not impossible
  13. Black clergy: Churches can sway views on climate crisis
  14. Can old Philadelphia refineries be cleaned up and restored?
  15. Here’s how Black Philadelphia can help in the environmental justice battle
  16. City Launches Environmental Justice Advisory Commission
  17. FIXING THE STRUGGLE SPACE
  18. SOLAR POLICIES ARE FALLING BEHIND – SO, HOW DO WE CATCH UP?
  19. IS PHILLY’S “TAP” WATER PROGRAM WORKING?
  20. Ian Harris
  21. Melissa Ostroff
  22. THE WATER BILLS ARE WAY TOO HIGH
  23. THE KEY TO APPROACHING FRONTLINE COMMUNITIES ON ALL THINGS GREEN
  24. ICYMI: Watch highlights, panels at ecoWURD’s 2021 Environmental Justice Summit
  25. BLACK MOTHERS NEED CLEANER & SAFER ENVIRONMENTS – IT’S A PUBLIC HEALTH IMPERATIVE
  26. USING DANCE TO SAVE A RIVER
  27. TRACKING PHILADELPHIA’S AIR QUALITY
  28. GETTING RELIGIOUS ON CLIMATE CRISIS
  29. WE NEED MORE BLACK PEOPLE IN AGRICULTURE
  30. WHEN THERE’S NO CLEAN ENVIRONMENT, WE HAVE NOTHING
  31. A PREMATURE END TO EVICTION MORATORIUMS
  32. THE LACK OF BELIEF IN CLIMATE CRISIS IS JUST AS MUCH A THREAT
  33. YOU CAN’T HAVE RACIAL JUSTICE WITHOUT FAIR HOUSING
  34. RUN OVER THE SYSTEMS: THE FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM
  35. PENNSYLVANIA IS “WAY BEHIND” ON SOLAR. HOW DOES IT CATCH UP?
  36. Pandemic Relief For Black Farmers Still Is Not Enough
  37. A BLUEPRINT FOR THE NEXT URBANISM
  38. THAT ELECTRONIC & CLOTHING WASTE PILES UP. SO WHERE TO PUT IT?
  39. THE WOMB IS THE FIRST ENVIRONMENT
  40. WILL THERE BE ANY MASS TRANSIT LEFT AFTER PANDEMIC?
  41. A FRIDGE FOR EVERYONE WHO’S HUNGRY
  42. OLD SCHOOL FOSSIL FUEL ECONOMY VS. NEW SCHOOL CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY
  43. ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE IS THE TOP SOCIAL JUSTICE PRIORITY
  44. IN 2020, DID “BIG GREEN” BECOME LESS WHITE?
  45. CLIMATE ACTION CAN POWER OUR RECOVERY
  46. IN PANDEMIC, AN HBCU DOES IT BETTER
  47. A DANGEROUS LACK OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE PROTECTIONS
  48. HOW FAST CAN A BIDEN PRESIDENCY MOVE ON CLIMATE ISSUES?
  49. CRAFTING A BLACK-DRIVEN CORONAVIRUS AND CLIMATE “STIMULUS” AGENDA
  50. Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia school district to help public school children
  51. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  52. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  53. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  54. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  55. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  56. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  57. THE PLAN FOR A 100 PERCENT CLEAN FUTURE IS SAVING NATURE
  58. WHAT SHOULD A PRESIDENT’S ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AGENDA LOOK LIKE?
  59. THE NEED FOR ABOLITIONIST TEACHING
  60. PUBLIC LANDS & SAVING NATURE
  61. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  62. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  63. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  64. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  65. THE NATURE GAP
  66. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  67. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  68. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  69. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  70. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  71. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  72. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  73. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  74. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  75. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  76. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  77. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  78. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  79. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  80. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  81. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  82. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  83. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  84. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  85. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  86. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  87. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  88. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  89. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  90. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  91. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  92. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  93. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  94. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  95. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  96. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  97. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  98. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  99. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  100. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  101. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  102. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  103. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  104. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  105. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  106. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  107. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  108. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  109. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  110. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  111. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  112. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  113. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  114. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  115. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  116. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  117. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  118. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  119. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  120. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  121. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  122. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  123. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  124. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  125. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  126. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  127. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  128. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  129. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  130. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  131. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  132. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  133. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  134. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  135. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  136. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  137. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  138. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  139. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  140. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  141. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  142. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  143. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  144. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  145. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  146. Are You Going to Drink That?
  147. The Origins of ecoWURD
  148. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  149. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  150. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  151. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess

Where Is All That Extra Plastic Going?   

Brian J. Love & Julie Rieland | The Conversation

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Many items designated as reusable, communal or secondhand have been temporarily barred to minimize person-to-person exposure. This is producing higher volumes of waste.

Grocers, whether by state decree or on their own, have brought back single-use plastic bags. Even IKEA has suspended use of its signature yellow reusable in-store bags. Plastic industry lobbyists have also pushed to eliminate plastic bag bans altogether, claiming that reusable bags pose a public health risk.

As researchers interested in industrial ecology and new schemes for polymer recycling, we are concerned about challenges facing the recycling sector and growing distrust of communal and secondhand goods. The trends we see in the making and consuming of single-use goods, particularly plastic, could have lasting negative effects on the circular economy.

Recyclers Under Pressure

Since March 2020, when most shelter-in-place orders began, sanitation workers have noted massive increases in municipal garbage and recyclables. For example, in cities like Chicago, workers have seen up to 50 percent more waste.  [ecoWURD note: Trash collection in Philadelphia more than doubled in some neighborhoods, see Billy Penn for more]

According to the Solid Waste Association of North America, U.S. cities saw a 20 percent average increase in municipal solid waste and recycling collection from March into April 2020. Increased trash can be attributed partly to spring cleaning, but most of it is due to people spending greater time at home. Restaurants struggling to survive under COVID-19 restrictions are contributing to the rise in plastic and paper waste with takeout packaging.

Although higher volumes of recyclables are being set on the curb, budget deficits are squeezing recycling programs. Many municipalities are struggling with multimillion-dollar shortfalls. Some communities, such as Rock Springs, Wyoming, and East Peoria, Illinois, have cut recycling programs.

And these stresses are testing a business already faced uncertainty.

Turmoil in Scrap Markets

The global recycling economy has suffered since 2018 as first China and then other Asian nations banned imports of low-quality scrap – often meaning improperly cleaned food packaging and poorly sorted recyclable materials. As in any business, the value of raw recyclables is linked to supply and demand. Without demand from nations like China, which formerly took up to 700,000 tons of U.S. scrap annually, recyclers have scrambled to stay in business.

The pandemic has boosted prices for some materials. One industry leader told us that between February and May 2020, prices doubled for recycled paper and tripled for recycled cardboard. These shifts reflect higher demand for tissue products and shipping packaging under shelter-in-place orders.

However, he also reported that prices for the most-recycled categories of reclaimed plastics were at 10-year lows. An influx of cheap oil has driven the raw material cost of oil-derived virgin plastics to their lowest levels in decades, outcompeting recycled feedstocks.

Difficult Economics

Ideally, revenues from recycling offset municipalities’ costs for collecting and disposing of solid wastes. However, given worker safety concerns, low market prices for scrap materials, a slowed economy and cheaper alternatives for disposal, many communities and businesses across the U.S. have temporarily suspended collection of recyclables and bottle deposits.

Meanwhile, as the commercial sector slowed, the distribution of waste generation changed. As people have spent more time producing waste at home, waste collectors implemented new procedures to protect their employees from infection.

Recycling is a very hands-on process that requires workers to manually sort out items from the collection stream that are unsuitable for mechanical processing. Workers and waste collection companies have raised many safety questions about recycling during the pandemic.

Precautions like social distancing and use of personal protective equipment have become commonplace among waste collectors and sorters, though concerns remain. Sorters are increasingly relying on automation, but implementation can be costly and takes time.

Collections on Pause

Based on monitoring since 2017 by the trade publication Waste Dive, nearly 90 curbside recycling programs had experienced or continue to experience a prolonged suspension over the past several years. About 30 of these suspensions have occurred since January 2020.On a broader scale, it’s not clear how much more waste Americans are currently producing during shutdowns. Commercial and residential waste aren’t directly comparable. For example, a granola bar wrapper thrown away at the office is tallied differently than if discarded at home.

It is also challenging to quantify the effects of the pandemic while it is still unfolding. Historically, waste output from the commercial and industrial sectors has far outweighed the municipal stream. With many offices and business closed or operating at low levels, total U.S. waste production could actually be at a record low during this time. However, data on commercial and industrial wastes are not readily available.

At the California-based Peninsula Sanitary Service, which serves the Stanford University community, total tonnage was down 60 percent in March. The company attributes this drop to reduced commercial waste, particularly from construction. Similarly, the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, noted a 10 percent decrease year over year of waste collection levels for April.

More Plastic Trash

As cities and industries reopen in the coming months, new data will show the pandemic’s effects on consumer habits and waste generation. But regardless of total volume, the mix of materials in household wastes has shifted given the new ubiquity of single-use plastic containers, online shopping packaging and disposable gloves, wipes and face masks. Many of these new staples of pandemic life are made from plastics that are simply not worth recycling if there are any other disposal options.

Today Americans are trying to balance their physical well-being against ever-mounting piles of plastic waste. At a time when reducing and reusing could be dangerous, and recycling economics are unfavorable, we see a need for better options, such as more compostable packaging that is both safer and more sustainable.

 

Brian J. Love is a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan and Julie Rieland is a PhD Candidate in Macromolecular Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan