City officials still challenged by Philly's litter problem

More trash cans, right? Not as simple as it sounds say city officials

Pat Loeb
October 09, 2018 - 7:35 pm

Pat Loeb | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — If you've ever wondered why Philadelphia's litter problem is so hard to solve, there was a clue at Wednesday's hearing of the city council's Streets and Services Committee. 

Zero Waste and Litter Director Nic Esposito says his office conducted research to see how trash cans impact the amount of litter on public streets.

"The results showed that when waste receptacles were removed from public spaces litter increased as did staff time picking up that litter," said Esposito.

While it's not rocket science he says it's also not as simple as it sounds to fix.

"Anyone who wants to put a trash can out in the city knows it's not as easy as putting one out and it's going to solve all the problems."

City law prohibits putting anything in the public right of way, so each community group that might want to contain litter by putting out a trash can, has to get permission for each one. A bill before the committee would grant blanket permission to community groups to put out trash cans. Of course they'd also have to empty them and, as Councilman Mark Squilla warned, be aware that some people might use them for more than candy wrappers.

"You see these ShopRite bags, Acme bags, whatever, fill them up and throw them in these cans and the next thing you know they're filled to the top," said Squilla.

Esposito says the bill is just the first step.

"We're trying to work with our community groups to think through those challenges," he said.

The committee unanimously passed the bill and sent it to the full council.