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  • You’re Doing Trash Day Wrong: Philly Trash Pickup Rules trash-day Full view

    You’re Doing Trash Day Wrong: Philly Trash Pickup Rules

    Did you know you can get FINED for using a paper bag for recycling?

    SWEEP, Streets & Walkways Education and Enforcement Program, educates citizens about their responsibilities for the Philadelphia Streets Sanitation Code. But they also enforce the rules through warnings and fines for trash and recycling violations.

    Irony alert: Last week, I received a recycling violation notice on my door. Picture this: I live on a corner intersection, with one street a dead end. About 6-7 neighbors place their recycling and trash outside of my front door each week. But every week, people will pile boxes, throw recycling in paper bags (right before snow/rain), put trash out too soon, and neglect to pick up the remains of litter after trash day.

    A SWEEP officer noticed the debris, like a trash can vomited on our corner right after the city collection came through. Because my door is closest to this area, my door received the fine…

    So how can you avoid the fate of a $50- $100 (or more) fine? Here are the rules for Philadelphia trash & recycling days.

    Proper Containers for Recycling & Trash

    Recycling containers must be sturdy plastic or metal containers that hold 32 gallons or less, marked with the words “Recycling” on the side. Philadelphia gives FREE recycling bins to residents.

    Cardboard boxes, paper bags or plastic bags can NOT be solely used for recycling containers.

    Trash must be placed in metal or non-corrodible bins in 40-pounds or less, or sealed plastic bags.

    You cannot use cardboard boxes as trash cans either.

    *Cardboard boxes: If you’re recycling cardboard boxes, you can’t just pile them curbside, either. Make sure to flatten cardboard boxes, bind them together OR put them in a recycling bin.

    7 Tips to Correctly Set out your Trash and Recycling

    1. Find out your trash & recycling day on the Streets Department website.
    2. October – March, you can set out your trash & recycling from 5 PM night before to 7 AM the day of collections. April – September, times allowed are 7 PM – 7 AM.
    3. E-waste must be recycled (It’s a PA law.)
    4. Hazardous waste must be disposed of properly. Find out when events are on the Streets Department website.
    5. No Plastic Bags In Your Recycling Bin. Repeat: NO PLASTIC BAGS IN THE RECYCLING BIN.
    6. No bulk furniture (i.e. refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, etc) can be dumped via the curb.
    7. Grass trimmings / yard waste should be composted.

    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

    Your thoughts . . .

    • stephen714

      You are not alone with your unfair SWEEP fine. The city is rigid about the rules (except what areas they choose to enforce them). If you are disabled, you are just out of luck. If your recycle bin is stolen, as are most things set outdoors, you are forced to travel to a distant location to get a new one. So if disabled and your bin is stolen they will tell you it’s still your responsibility to travel or find someone to travel to get a free one for you. You can pay about $25.00 to buy one at a local hardware store, assuming you can get there and drag a recycle bin home with you. The answer to requests by a disabled person for assistance in obtaining a new bin are quite absurd. They range from the usual “I don’t know what to tell you.” to much more rude. When presented with the question “I pay someone every week to take out trash, but when it’s not full, I hold onto the bin until more things in it. Why did I get a citation with fine?” The answer is there were 5 bags of trash and no bin out so you must have not recycled. Even though not true, there is no recourse except court hearing that this disabled person could not get to. The next question was “My only way to get recycle bin out every week is by someone paid almost every week except when bin not full. Does the ticket mean it will cost me a weekly fine by the city of Philadelphia or I must move into a nursing home just to avoid this fine?” If you guessed the answer was “That may be what you need to do.” Then you are correct. This city could be so much more than it is except for the inflexible attitude by city government. Even with computer, etc. these people are the face and voice of city government. Interaction with elected representatives is impossible if in reference tothis issue. Companies can’t open offices in this city because of a lack of an educated worker pool. Meaning lack of high school graduates on up. The great schools here are unable to keep graduates from leaving for many reasons and poor attitude by all levels of city government is the biggest reason. Very sad for a beautiful city.