Illegal dumping and piles of litter plague Philadelphia

Philadelphia's illegal dumping plaque remains out of control, and a new street sweeping program will try to clean up litter. When will we conquer our mountain of trash?

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Dumping at Fairhill and Annsbury streets

Dumping at Fairhill and Annsbury streets in North Philadelphia, as reported to Philly 311 on March 8, 2022. (Twitter/@PHILLY311PHOTOS)

Philadelphia has a huge illegal dumping problem, with piles of trash, construction waste, and furniture covering vacant lots and even hiding in wooded areas, and residents say the city is not keeping up with the constant daily influx of garbage. The problem has existed for decades, especially in Black and Latino communities and areas with high rates of crime and poverty.

A new street sweeping initiative aimed at clearing litter off local roads and out of gutters is about to roll out, but will it be enough to address the blight of waste in the streets? And, if the city can afford it, will more cameras, harsher fines and a bigger effort to target high-impact zones be strong enough to stop illegal dumpers?


Terrill Haigler (aka ‘Ya Fav Trashman’), Former Philadelphia sanitation worker, founder of the nonprofit Trash 2 Treasure and environmental advocate

Kyle Lewis, Recycling Program Director & Chair of the Cleaner Public Spaces Enforcement Committee of the City of Philadelphia

Meir Rinde, freelance journalist who reports for WHYY and Billy Penn

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