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May 28, 2020

Philly launches pickup recycling service for clothing, electronics

Partnership with Retrievr to enable residents to dispose of items by appointment

Environment Recycling
Retrievr Recycling Philly Source/City of Philadelphia

Retrievr will debut throughout Philadelphia on June 8, collecting clothing and electronics to be recycled by appointment. The pilot program is part of Philadelphia's SmartCityPHL initiative, which uses technology to leverage public-private partnerships to solve city problems.

Philadelphia residents can now schedule appointments to recycle clothing and electronics through a pickup service provided by the city, officials announced Thursday.

Retrievr offers free doorstep pickup for residents who wish to conveniently dispose of items they want recycled. Some large items, such as TVs, microwaves and air conditioners, may require a small fee.

The pilot program is the first in Philadelphia's Pitch & Pilot challenge, part of the SmartCityPHL initiative that aims to unite the private and public sectors to solve city problems. 

Retrievr already has partnerships with 82 municipalities in the United States to help divert clothing and electronics from landfills. These items make up approximately 10% of Philadelphia’s waste stream. 

"Retrievr’s proposal helps directly reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill, helping the city save money and keeping dangerous chemicals out of the ground and air," the Office of Innovation and Technology said in a statement. "Accessibility and technical capacity also played key roles in this decision — Retrievr’s service covers the entire city and can be booked over the phone, online or via text."

Residents will still be able to recycle large electronics at the city's sanitation convenience centers.

The launch comes as Philadelphia's regular recycling service remains heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Scheduled recycling pickups are now bi-weekly as the city deals with staffing shortages among sanitation workers.

"We're going to continue to try and find a way to ensure that we get our staffing levels back up and improve our services for our residents," Managing Director Brian Abernathy said.

Retrievr will begin collecting recycled clothing and electronics on June 8.

Philadelphians can begin scheduling pickups by visiting retrievr.com, texting PICKUP to 757-70-FETCH (757-703-3824), or calling 757-70-FETCH (757-703-3824).

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