Advocates urge Parker Administration to let small waste haulers dump at city-run sites

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People fighting illegal dumping in Philadelphia want the new mayor and City Council to change the rules at city-run sanitation convenience centers.

Last week, An advocacy group called Trash Academy launched a letter-writing campaign targeting Mayor Cherlle Parker and several council members, calling for city-run disposal centers to accept waste from small commercial haulers for an affordable fee.

“What we’re trying to do is give the small haulers somewhere that they can dump, without actually having to dump on our streets,” said Lois Williams, a leader of Trash Academy and member of HACE’s Neighborhood Advisory Subcommittee who lives in Philly’s Fairhill section.

The city’s six sanitation convenience centers currently accept waste only from residents — not commercial haulers. They also ban construction waste, which makes up a significant part of the items dumped in fast-developing neighborhoods.

Advocates say that legal, private disposal options are not cost-effective for small, independent commercial haulers — pushing them to dump the debris for free on vacant lots, curbs, street corners, and sidewalks.

“They are charged the same minimum tipping fee as the big contractors, even though they’re load is much smaller,” Williams said.

For example, a bulk disposal center in North Philadelphia charges a minimum of $100 for construction and demolition waste disposal and a minimum of $150 for mattress disposal — the same fee you’d pay to dispose of one ton of mattresses.

Leonard Rhett, a block captain in Philly’s Olney section, joined a virtual meeting to drum up support for Tuesday’s letter-writing campaign. He said cleanups in his neighborhood are a “repeating cycle.”

“I don’t know how much money they spend coming back out to clean up the same lot over and over again,” Rhett said.

The repetitive nature of cleanups is the reason advocates want city officials to double down on solutions that prevent dumping from occurring in the first place.

The rule change Trash Academy is pushing for at sanitation centers emerged from last year’s Clean Philadelphia NOW campaign to end litter and dumping by 2028, developed by people who lead frequent cleanups in their neighborhoods, nonprofit staffers, and former city officials. The campaign’s other policy recommendations include restarting curbside pickup of bulk items, utilizing city-run security cameras to catch illegal dumpers, and paying residents who currently clean up their neighborhoods for free.

  • January 22, 2024
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