When you have something you never want to see again, all you need to do is throw it away, and it vanishes forever. But when we think about it, we know it has to be more complicated than that. And it is!

Keep reading to learn what happens to the trash that Philadelphians throw away.

Reducing Waste That Ends Up in the Landfill

If you are wondering where your trash goes in Philadelphia, it’s likely either recycled or turned into energy. The breakdown looks like this:

  • 46% Recycled
  • 28% Converted into energy
  • 26% is landfilled

In 2017, the city released a new waste reduction plan. The goal is to increase trash diversion by 90% by 2035. You can read more about it here.

Waste Facilities in the Area

There are a wide variety of recycling facilities in and around the city listed in the map at the bottom of this post.  

Philadelphia and the surrounding area uses 3 main waste facilities:

  • Covanta Delaware Valley in Chester is the largest facility. It burns 3,300 tons of waste per day.
  • Covanta Plymouth Renewable Energy in Conshohocken burns 1,200 tons of waste per day
  • Wheelabrator Falls Inc. in Morristown burns 1,500 tons of waste per day.

For many years, there were 4 major landfills in the Philadelphia area.

They were located in:

  • Morrisville, Bucks County.
  • Tullytown, Bucks County.
  • Pottstown, Montgomery County.
  • West Grove, Chester County.

The Morrisville landfill, known as the GROWS North Landfill, is expected to close sometime in the next few years.

Nearby the GROWS North Landfill is the Tullytown landfill, which is certified through 2019, however,  Waste Management, who runs the landfill, expect to shut it down within the next few years.  Did you know that cash gifts from the Borough of Tullytown have been as high as $6,000 per household? Residents have to put up with the terrible smell of the landfill, but are rewarded with some of the revenue from the landfill.  Read more on The Intell.com

The landfill in West Grove has no plans of closing.  In fact, the development plans on their website will keep the landfill open through 2051.

The landfill in Pottstown PA closed in 2005. 

Not all Waste Can be Recycled

While the need for landfills is decreasing, there is still some waste that can’t be recycled or converted to energy.  Many townships outside of Philadelphia still use landfills. In fact there are 44 permitted landfills in Pennsylvania; however, only 3 of those reside in Philadelphia, Chester County, Delaware County, and Bucks County.

Check out another of our recent blog posts to learn what happens to trash in the Washington, D.C. region

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