On January 20, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful
(KPB) continued its push to produce the city’s first unified front on the issue of litter
with a convening of officials and community stakeholders at the Municipal Services Building’s 16th floor Innovation Lab.
Attendees were from groups as diverse as the Streets Department, the Philadelphia Water Department
(PWD), the Tookany Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership
, the Aramingo Business Association
, the People's Emergency Center
, the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia
, the North Fifth Street Revitalization Project
, the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation
(PCDC), the Schuylkill Navy of Philadelphia
and the South of South Neighborhood Association
"How do we do this as a city, and how do the smaller groups work together?" asked Marian Horowitz, an environmental engineer at PWD.
Alan Robinson of the Schuylkill Navy said that when it comes to the city environment, he wishes people would get as excited about reducing and eliminating litter as they are about pop-up parks, pools and gardens.
One of four specialized break-out sessions focused specifically on the problem of illegal dumping. PCDC Deputy Director Rachel Mak led the discussion.
While litter in the streets, sidewalks and waterways is a problem in Philly, illegal dumping is a problem on a larger and much more noticeable scale. People unwilling to dispose of their household or construction trash properly leave bags and piles on public corners or strewn around City trash cans.
Mak highlighted a few sites in the Chinatown neighborhood that research has pinpointed as hot-spots for illegal dumping, including the corners at 10th and Race Streets, 10th and Cherry Streets, and 11th and Wood Streets.
One reason tracking the dumping sites is important, Mak said, is that the installation of cameras can capture illegal dumpers in the act. Printouts of the images can also be distributed throughout the neighborhood.
PCDC also partners with the Streets Department’s Streets and Walkways Education and Enforcement Program
(SWEEP) to check illegally dumped material for identifying information that can be used to track down and fine the perpetrators.
Stopping illegal dumping takes a lot of groundwork, persistence, education, and "getting your hands dirty," explains Mak.
"People get used to seeing trash, so they let it go when it happens," adds Horowitz. "People think they aren’t doing anything wrong or no-one will notice.
Later, we’ll take a look at how the new KPB consortium is hoping to mobilize business owners on the issue.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Rachel Mak, PCDC; and KPB litter convening participants