Brothers Bryan and Matthew Siegfried have taken it upon themselves to create a way for community members to recycle more efficiently, including items not accepted by the City for recycling.
Rabbit Recycling, located at 1518 Brandywine St., is a recent startup that caters to the environment through its hand-sorting and inspection of all items received. This level of care is to ensure all materials are organized into one of five categories: commodity, donation, upcycle, specialty, and deconstruction.
Rabbit Recycling offers assistance to residents in determining what waste they may have on their hands, without easy-to-read labeled directions or plastic resin identification codes one through seven in their triangular symbols.
“The mission was to generate a sustainable solution for individuals, households, and businesses to recycle and reuse their waste,” Matthew Siegfried said.
The brothers, who are now in their 30s, grew up in Montgomery County when the importance of recycling was not as pertinent to society as it is today.
“Our parents raised us to separate trash and recycling, but there was never any extended effort to recycle anything more than single-stream materials,” Bryan Siegfried recalled. “Our recycles were limited to cans, glass, and paper products.”
Confusion around understanding what is still a problem today. Whether it’s due to a lack of information or initiative, many have trouble recognizing recyclables from trash.
The entrepreneurial Siegfrieds started their business out by spending hundreds of hours researching ways to reuse as many things they could think of.
Rabbit Recycling works to accommodate customers’ lives and schedules and COVID concerns with flexible hours for material drop-offs and shop visits by special requests and appointments only.
The exchange of materials begins with an email to Rabbit Recycling requesting the number of five to 18-gallon containers to be delivered to the desired location. Once the containers are filled, another email sets in motion a request for a pickup. It’s that simple.
“We implore customers to ensure all items dropped off are cleaned out thoroughly before placing them in their donation containers,” Bryan Siegfried said. “As the items reach their final destination at big recycling facilities, they must not be contaminated with food or liquid or they cannot be accepted because they would soil the other recyclables.”
Because not everything created was designed to be recycled, Rabbit Recycling also has a solution for single-use items in addition to sustainable ones.
Materials that can be upcycled, repaired, or reused are offered back to the community for free at the shop with the help of Rabbit Recycling’s Instagram. Many local artists have reached out to use leftover materials.
Two artists who have salvaged items by the center are Caps.By.Liv, an artist who uses beer cans and bottle caps as her medium, and Mehgan_Rose, who prints film on spare wood at the shop to use as canvasses.
“It’s been incredibly fun working with Matt,” Mehgan Rose said. “I feel like a kid in a candy store when I’m visiting their warehouse.”
Rabbit Recycling continues to grow a base of customers who are looking for constant advice on how to responsibly get rid of their household waste, like Victoria Ward.
One of Ward’s favorite Rabbit Recycling resources is The List, an in-depth chart of items that can be recycled, organized in a way to make it easy to read and understand. Again, made with the customer in mind.
“They were exactly what I had been looking for because their initiative helps my family take closer inventory of what we tend to throw away,” Ward said. “Let’s be real. ‘Filthadelphia’ is an ugly nickname, but we can’t deny its origins have the truth.”
Ward, a mother of four, heard about the startup from her Facebook community group, Roxborough Mommas, a place she often goes for tips and tricks.
“One day I posted wondering where I could recycle some tough-to-recycle items like ripped clothing, scratched pots, and pans,” Ward said. “One of the Rox Mommas said she used Rabbit Recycling, so I looked them up and it was love at first sight.”
Both Bryan and Matthew Siegfried hope the love for the ease of recycling will empower people to be better stewards of the Earth.
“Our goal is to recycle everything possible because our standards for cleanliness are high,” Bryan Siegfried said. “We just want to keep creating awareness about our mission.”
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