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New bills could help reduce trash on city streets

It’s seemingly impossible to walk anywhere in Philly without coming across some trash piling on the sidewalks, streets, lots and gutters. Trash disposal and cleanups are often expressed as major concerns in most neighborhoods, with a severe lack of trash cans available on most streets throughout the city.

 Litter at 12th and McKean

Litter at 12th and McKean

Two new bills, being introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, could help with the city’s trash problems. These bills would require food businesses and landlords of residential properties to provide more trash can and recycling options. 

More on the bills from the Daily News:

The first bill would require that trash cans and recycling bins be placed in or within 10 feet of the entrance of any business that sells “prepared or prepackaged food for takeout or consumption off the premises.”

The second bill pertains to owners of buildings with six or more apartment units. Landlords would be required to have dumpsters and recycling bins in common areas to alleviate the need for their tenants to keep trash in their homes all week or illegally dump it prior to trash pickup day.

The purpose of these bills is to help make the city more attractive. Let’s face it, no one wants to see trash littered on our streets.

The hearing dates for the bills have yet to be set. According to the Daily News, the councilwoman also noted that once the bills become law, she would like to work to create companion legislation that would enforce a system to fine those who fail to provide the proper methods of disposal at their business or residency.

Do you think these bills would help keep our streets cleaner?  

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51 Responses to New bills could help reduce trash on city streets

  1. Brian March 16, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    These wont help at all. The main problem of garbage in the streets is from 2 things:
    - circulars/menu’s
    - people who do not properly dispose of their own trash in their homes

    There are a lot of houses in my area that people with just dump trash into a cardboard box or just have an acme plastic bag overflowing sitting on their curb. As soon as any sort of wind/rain hits that garbage is right down the street.

    Its absolutely disgusting and shameful to live in a city where people will also dump their household trash willingly down the sewer grates.

    • Nik March 17, 2015 at 8:13 am #

      Brian is 100% right. I live at 7th and Moore and it’s disgusting. The Streets Dept should fine all these lazy idiots that can’t be bothered to properly dispose of their trash – sorry if that’s too much “Big Brother” for people, but if they insist on acting like children, they should be treated as such.

    • Frank March 17, 2015 at 9:02 am #

      Ditto Brian. In many areas of the city, there are already plenty of trash cans. That doesn’t stop folks from dropping their trash where they stand, slipping it under their car and driving away, pushing it down sewers, or even tossing it from the windows of their moving car. The only thing more grosser than the number of discarded snack wrappers swirling around the city is the fact that someone actually ate the junk that was in them. My neighbors and I (in Mt. Airy) have put out our own trash cans to encourage passersby to dispose of trash properly — we still end up with everything from styrofoam clamshells of chicken bones to soiled diapers simply left on the ground.

      There are litter laws, but they are clearly not enforced (otherwise, the people who throw circulars into our bushes would have been fined out of business). When I was a kid, we had “Don’t be a Litter Bug” ads and lessons about litter in school. Adults had waste baskets and ashtrays in their cars — and used them. Unless City Hall can come up with an ordinance that magically makes Philadelphians neater, more considerate, and more civic-minded, an increase in the number of trash receptacles will do very little.

    • Julie March 27, 2015 at 2:30 am #

      If a law were passed to ban the distribution of super market circulars in highly populated areas, I think things would improve. I have seen stacks of these circulars sitting on a corner being blown all over the place on windy days. That is what happens even before they are distributed to row homes. Then you have the ones that accumulate on the front steps of unoccupied homes. There has to be a better way for super markets to advertise their sales without making a mess.

  2. enneirda March 16, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    These are fine requirements. And hopefully they will eliminate litter. The problem lies not with business and landlords though, it lies with the individual. We need to educate the segment of our population that thinks the storm drain is synonymous with trash can. I’ve had this conversation with various little kids and they have said “my momma says it’s okay because it’s the sewer.” Litter is a symptom of a bigger problem, how do we teach people to respect their neighborhood? Even if it, god forbid, means putting your trash in your pocket until you see a trash can.

  3. Ian March 16, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    I really don’t get this city when it comes to trash. We can’t even have street cleaning because be would rather be disgusting and live in filth than move the car for 2 hours…People cannot wait to throw garbage out – they have to stuff it into big bellys (well leave it beside the trash can most of the time)

    Brian is right, can we just eliminate circulars like they eliminate plastic bags in some places? Any given day in south philly – 75% of the litter on the street seems to be some crappy handout from some terrible pizza place 15 blocks away…ugh

  4. Anthony March 16, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    While I agree that the problem is with the individual, more trash cans (which are largely missing in South Philly) are sorely needed. And the most ridiculous thing that I didn’t even know was possible before I moved here, is that street cleaning isn’t done because people won’t move their cars. I sweep my sidewalk, but many times the trash that’s in the street blows right up onto the sidewalk. Why did the city give up with cleaning the sidewalks? I assume the towing companies don’t mind towing people ($$$), so why aren’t we just towing cars that aren’t moved? Completely absurd.

    • Derek March 17, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

      Agreed. People learning that you can’t put garbage in loose boxes or throw it all in a sewer grate (seriously, people do this all the time like it is totally normal) is one thing. But more public trashcans are a must. The inevitable problem will be people using them for their private trash because they are too selfish and lazy to purchase hefty bags and wait until trash day. Its cultural and practical.

  5. c.g. March 16, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    Part of the problem is trash collection. Yes, street cleaning would be nice…but it wouldn’t be as necessary if:
    1) People threw their trash away. Having more places to throw trash away would help. [This does not always prevent litterbugs, but it helps.]
    2) Trash – that is properly bagged &/or in a recycling bin – actually made it into the trucks.

    Trash pick-up day is the dirtiest day in my neighborhood – there are recyclables blowing all over the street. I sometimes think the Sanitation Dept. causes more trash than they remove.

    People can also opt-out of getting flyers by putting a “circular-free” sticker up, I think it works pretty well on my street:

  6. Steve March 16, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

    I live on 9th street between Moore and Morris and frequently clean the street only for it to be trashed less than a day later. The sad truth is people are slobs and no amount of garbage cans on the street will help. I have literally seen people coming out of convenience stores that have garbage cans either in the store or outside and they still opt to throw their trash on the street. I’ve even tried to shame people by calling them out on it and they have just told me to go “f*ck yourself” or that they know they are a$$holes but don’t care. I hope that I am wrong, but I don’t have any faith in the city or long time residents who don’t give a $hit about their neighborhood. Until then I will keep cleaning my street because I would rather it look nice for 1 day than have trash continue to pile up.

  7. Mike March 16, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    We’ve had street cleaning at a time, and all it did was cause problems. If you didn’t move your car by a certain time you got a ticket. I’m sorry, yes i would love for the streets to get cleaned, but I am against the city ticketing cars on the street that i pay taxes on because I am either not at home or on vacation. Even the trash collectors are disgusting people. They throw bags into the truck from the sidewalk, the bags break, trash falls out and whatever hits the ground, they leave it. This city is disgusting and our so called Mayor does NOTHING. I can only imagine what his house looks like.

    • Dan P. March 16, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

      Just quick reply and I’m not trying to cause trouble by asking this. If you know that the car needs to be moved once a month (and let’s just keep to to March-December) or even just every other month (which would be better than the never that it happens now), and you know exactly what day and what time of day, couldn’t you make arrangements to have someone move your car for you the put it back the same way you’d ask someone to pick up your mail?

      • Mike March 16, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

        Fortunately, my mail goes into the mailbox. I don’t need someone to pick it up for me. As far as the car goes, what if someone can’t move the car for me? Or if i gave my keys to someone and something came up on their end which stopped them from doing it? Now, I get a ticket because my car wasn’t moved? And with all due respect, not everyone has someone who can do them a favor. Especially in this day and age, everyone is lazy.

        • IR March 17, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

          Not to be a jerk but its kind of funny you say in this day and age everyone is lazy yet you are making a big stink about moving your car once a month (for example). I don’t want you to be offended but I think its important to highlight this disconnect.

          • Derek March 17, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

            Also, as with so many things that are apparently impossible to conceive of in Philly, it somehow happens in innumerable other big cities without a problem.

          • Mike March 18, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

            I’m not making a big stink about moving my car. I said what if i’m not around to move my car or what if i CAN’T get someone to move my car. And not for nothing, but yeah, the city should have some put into this city to clean it, but also the people who live in this city should also keep their properties clean as well. Not have trash all over their sidewalks or in the streets. That’s the problem of being lazy. No one cleans.

            • Marc March 19, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

              In every other big city people manage to move their cars just fine.

              If you can’t, you get a ticket. You think New York just magically has less litter (I can assure you it does not, I split my time between NY and Philly).

              NY just manages to spend more time cleaning. On every single NYC street you have to move your car not just once a month, but twice a WEEK. People do it. The city is clean. NYers pay plenty of taxes, believe me. And they somehow manage to move their cars twice a week to allow for street sweeping.

              And the street sweeping helps, immensely.

              There is no other way around it. We need street sweeping, even if only once a month.

              Sorry. You’ll just have to move your car or be ticketed. It’s not that hard to plan in advance.

    • Anthony March 16, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

      Not to single you out Mike, but why does street cleaning work in other cities? Having lived in several other cities (big and small), Philadelphians are the most entitled that I’ve seen when it comes to street parking. Next to nothing is paid for a “permit” and there’s this expectation that a huge percentage of the city serve as a free parking lot.

      • Mike March 16, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

        Street cleaning works in other cities because people WANT their cities clean. I’ve been in Philadelphia for 35 years. Growing up, i remember every Saturday morning, all of the neighbors would come outside and clean their sidewalks, the streets in front of their houses and it would look nice. Today’s day and age, you have nothing but trashy people who don’t care. And on top of that, I’ve been to other cities as well. Cincinnati for example. One of the cleanest cities i’ve ever seen. They have trash cans on every corner. There are too many slobs in this city, and no one cares It’s disgusting. And I feel like our mayor doesn’t care himself. Instead, he just rather raise our taxes another 9.48%.

        • Marc March 19, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

          Ha ha. Mike has lived in one place for 35 years and insists that the difference is that other people want their cities clean.

          Guess what Mike? People throw chicken bones on the street in Brooklyn too.

          But then the street sweeper comes twice a week and cleans it up.

          I love when people in Philly (who have never lived anywhere else) insist that they know how other places are different. How would you know those places are different?

          They’re not. Cities are big, busy, messy places. Everyone has to do their part in order to make up for those who do not. That involves cleaning (to the extent that you can) and dealing with modern inconveniences like 1. not parking in front of your house every day and 2. having to move your car periodically to allow for street sweeping.

          Sorry. If those things are too onerous for you then you are a part of the problem, too.

      • Yes March 17, 2015 at 8:10 am #

        @Anthony. Totally agreed. Moved here from NYC to S Philly, and all my neighbors complain constantly about having to walk 1 block to park their car. It’s so weird. South Philly is in desperate need of street cleaning, in addition to the circulars being banned, and people getting fined for throwing un-bagged trash onto the sidewalk.

        • AnthonyG March 17, 2015 at 8:29 am #

          There is zero excuse for not moving your car for street cleaning. Just none. It’s posted on the freakin’ sign, I guess maybe if you can’t read….

          • Mike March 18, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

            Posted on the sign? Do you know how long those signs have been there? Do you know how long its been since they’ve actually did something to clean this city? It’s been at least 10 years. The last time they did “street cleaning” is when Frank DiCicco was in office and everyone complained about it. Not because they had to move their cars, but because if they DIDN’T move their car or couldn’t for whatever reason, they got a ticket. And now with all the idiots working in office for this city, they do nothing to clean up, which is why Philadelphia is number 3 out of 20 on the top 20 dirtiest cities in America.

            • Derek March 18, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

              Your points about personal responsibility are well taken, but your arguments about why street cleaning didn’t work are sort of proving Anthony’s point. Whatever the reason, people are too lazy to move their cars in this town. And the signs still say what they say, doesn’t matter that everyone thinks its moot because they haven’t tried to do it in years. Its the same thing with parking in the middle of Broad Street.

              • ProvWitout March 18, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

                I think the green machine style cleanup crews that the center city district employs are far more effective than big giant street sweepers that pick up one form of pollution while spewing out another in the form of diesel exhaust fumes…

                Not everyone is on the same schedule either. People who work at nights or weird schedules in general might not have a choice. “No excuse” for not moving cars? You only need to be excused if some entity wants to force a one size fits all strategy on you… Those who dismiss or belittle explainations by calling them excuses don’t show like they have the patience to listen to why some people might not be able to move their car every month for a street sweeper that doesn’t even pick up much trash to begin with…

                Green machine is the way to go… Not outmoded deisel trucks…

  8. Dan P. March 16, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    The issue with public trashcans has always been about collection and, as mentioned here, the public’s use of them for household trash outside of the weekly trash pick up. If people only used them to toss a small baggie of dog droppings or soda bottles or candy wrappers, then the cans would only need to be emptied every few days if not weekly. But with bag upon bag of kitchen and other household waste, they need to be emptied every single day. And even if there were some solution of a can that one need not touch (which turns people off to the Big Bellies) and only have openings small enough for litter, the very presence of the can would invite people to leave bags and other trash next to it or on top of it. I remember seeing a picture of COUCH balanced on top of a wire basket.

    Ideally consumption could be scaled back to prevent the creation of so much garbage… excess packaging, etc. But that’s a pipe dream. The city should consider expanding to twice per week pick up and put an extra person on the truck who just follows along with a broom and a trashcan on wheels to pick up whatever falls from the truck. While this bill for 6+ unit buildings is helpful, a lot of the multi-family units in South Philadelphia are two-four unit places with very little access to common outdoor areas for trash storage.

    The only other solution would be for the city to take all the money it pays out for labor and equipment to collect trash and instead just pay individuals by the pound for trash brought to collection points around the city. Put a dollar figure on that litter and it will go away quick. Sure… not something that will ever happen but neither will a pristine clean street.

  9. Melissa March 16, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

    Great start and add the rule of no more circulars/menus blanketing doorsteps only to blow away. I would rather put my recyclables into a blue plastic bag for recycling rather than a bin because that would prevent it from blowing away in bad weather. You can buy these bags at the grocery store right next to the garage bags. We also need to put those in jail to work. Get them picking up trash on the streets.

    • AnthonyG March 17, 2015 at 8:27 am #

      @ Melissa: Good idea, but what about the people who collect the soda cans? Don’t they just rip open the plastic bag?

    • Kat March 17, 2015 at 10:25 am #

      Plastic bags get tangled up in the sorting machines, which is why people are supposed to not use them in their recycling bins.

  10. Shannon March 17, 2015 at 7:53 am #

    In my neighborhood in S Philly, there is nowhere to move your car to for street cleaning. When I lived in Brooklyn, people would double-park on the other side for three hours for street cleaning. Most of the streets around me are too narrow for that.

    Banning circulars & providing more trash cans in S Philly would help, but the attitudes of Philly residents need to change as well.

    • ProvWitout March 18, 2015 at 5:29 pm #


  11. Ray March 17, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    Why couldn’t the street cleaning be done during the work day when most cars are gone?

  12. DL March 17, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    Trash begets more trash, but a clean block will generally stay clean with a couple minutes of work every day. When lazy people see an empty soda can on the street, they assume if one person does this, it must be ok, and it snowballs. Philly needs an attitude adjustment in the worst way, but it can start with a few motivated people.

    I moved to South Philly 5 years ago and there was a bunch of trash on my block. I put a trash can in front of the empty lot next door to my house and I maintain it by making sure that it is only used for “pedestrian” trash. The lid is locked on top, so it’s impossible to put a bag of household trash in there, with just a small hole in top big enough for soda cans and the like. Within days of me doing this, the entire block transformed. Sure, people still litter nearby a couple blocks away, but its remarkable how much cleaner it is near the trash can with 1-3 minutes of work every 1-2 days. Most weeks there is zero work involved except changing the bag. I get “thank yous” from about 15 dog walkers and all of my neighbors every other day. I spent like $25 for a heavy duty can, a cable lock and the cost of a bag is nominal every week. When I go away on vacation, I ask my neighbor to take care of it. I’ve got 5 other neighbors who would be happy to help out. Someone had to take charge and I volunteered because I was fed up with bitching and not seeing any results. Action speaks louder than words (written or spoken).

    I still pick up trash around the neighborhood, even though it isn’t mine. Most people step over it and complain how disgusting the neighborhood is and keep walking which is almost as bad as the person who littered in the first place; Bitching about it and ignoring it doesn’t fix it. Those people need to take that anger and channel it into a solution.

    There are 20 or more people that commented on this article. If each one of those people walks out in front of their house/apartment and picks up all the trash in front of your house (both the sidewalk and the street) and your neighbors to the right and left every day for 3-5 days, watch how quickly this will spread like wildfire. If your place is clean, go across the street and clean that up. Or take my idea and put a trash can nearby and MAINTAIN IT. Own that responsibility. Depending on how filthy it is on your block, this may take longer day 1, but each subsequent day will be 2-3 minutes tops. Can you handle 2-3 minutes every day? Your neighbors will see you and maybe, just maybe you’ll make an impression on a couple others while improving the neighborhood. You’ll be stunned at the difference it can make. Try it and see. Yes, this is a citywide problem but it starts with the individual. has regular neighborhood cleanups announced and it does make a huge difference when a bunch of people show up. If you truly want to help, contact the trash team there to help with a neighborhood cleanup for a couple hours on a Saturday at .

    • ProvWitout March 18, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

      Very well said DL..

    • lee March 19, 2015 at 9:57 am #

      where do you put the full bags until trash day?

  13. Marco March 18, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    two simple solutions:
    Fine people who dont bag up their trash properly.
    Ban circulars and fliers left on cars and fine offenders per flier.

    How would all those 3 stories with six units on Broad or Spring Garden even fit a dumpster onto their property?

    • Derek March 18, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

      Your solutions are fine ones, but I’ll say from experience that 311 is a complete waste of time. And I don’t usually go that far, but I have neighbors who have no idea what a trash bag is and who put loose trash out the day after pickup day and leave it there all week. 311 won’t do anything, they actually say they don’t see it there when I come home later the same day and its still there. I think on one occasion they picked up the trash, but they didn’t fine them or do anything that would change the behavior in the future. Philly could take a cue from NY, nuisance fines = revenue. It can work. But they don’t want to enforce for whatever reason.

  14. Tiny Tim March 18, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

    I walk all over south philly all the time. There is plenty of parking everywhere. Not every block at every moment, and there are times, like maybe Friday at 6 o’clock, when returning commuters might find it hard to park, but it just isn’t that hard to find a space unless you define a space as “in front of my house” most of the time. It’s incredible that people can’t be bothered to move their cars 5 or even 3 times a year on, say, a Tuesday morning, a time when most (not all) people who need their cars to commute would be commuting anyway, and think the risk of a $35 ticket makes a garbage filled city necessary. What the hell is wrong with you?

    • Derek March 19, 2015 at 11:18 am #

      When you know its happening you park elsewhere ahead of time. It happens weekly in New York City and they manage to do it without the world ending.

      • ProvWitout March 19, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

        That was a fake ProvWitout post.

        But if it was so easy, it wouldn’t be such an easy fix as “park elsewhere”… And it seems in New York City, a lot of double parking is going on… So… I’m sure you would just LOVE that…

        • ProvWitout March 19, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

          Double parking on one side because there are no places to park when a whole side of a street are off limits…

          • Derek March 19, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

            You most certainly can’t double park in New York City for more than an hour without getting towed.

            Look, it would be a mild inconvenience, but I’m not saying do it every week, but just often enough so there aren’t orange peels and dead animal carcasses composting on the street among the discarded copies of the South Philly Review.

            It really isn’t that hard to find a spot a couple blocks away if you need to.

    • Derek March 19, 2015 at 11:22 am #

      Amen to that. The “in front of my house” concept is another related problem. Its the reason some people think its ok to put cones or chairs out year round (especially if they’ve lived there for years and therefore feel entitled) or get a shady “handicapped” spot when they look suspiciously mobile and have a suspiciously large SUV that happens to occupy the spot at all times. You don’t own the spot in front of your house. You live in a city. Move to the suburbs and get a driveway if you can’t handle that.

  15. Tiiny Tim March 19, 2015 at 9:29 am #

    the night before?

  16. MS March 19, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    For what it’s worth, I’ve found that the Circular-Free Property sticker ( works pretty well. I had to wait a while to receive it from the city (long enough to forget that I had ever ordered it) but once it came, I’ve only had a couple “violations”. These were mostly in the first week I had it up; I called the businesses to talk about it, and have had almost zero unwanted menus/flyers since.

    • Phriscage March 19, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

      Thank you! I have been passively looking for that application for years.

  17. Charles H. March 20, 2015 at 9:04 am #

    These bills will do little to nothing to solve this issue. Our ‘leaders’ need to reprimand the people of Philadelphia. Tell them what slobs they are. Most people who buy from a corner store don’t need to toss the wrappers until they are long gone from the store so those cans won’t do anything. it’s a mindset. Philadelphians don’t care about filth. They love it!

  18. Austin March 20, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    I wish the city would fine Pat’s and Geno’s for the copious amounts of trash their ‘restaurants’ cause around SP. I never understood why these places don’t pay someone to go around sweep up all the cups and trash coming from their establishments.

  19. RichMitch March 30, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    You have to move your car off one side of the street one day and the other side of the street the other, or if it is a small street you move it off for one day. If you are at work and leave by a certain time in the morning you don’t have to worry. It only inconveniences people who don’t work or don’t work traditional hours. Every other major east coast city does it fine- DC, NY, and Boston. An end to the circulars would be great as well, when I lived in DC they were non-existent. I am from SW Philly and just returned from DC, and it really makes you realize how dirty Philly is.

  20. dm March 31, 2015 at 9:24 am #

    There is plenty of parking under 95. If thats too much of a hassle for you then move to the suburbs. Why do I have to deal with trash all over the place so you can have a car?

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