As Philadelphia struggles to keep up with trash and recycling collection, drop-off centers have seen a significant increase in usage — so much that residents were turned away from one location last week.
Mayor Jim Kenney announced last week that the city’s six sanitation centers would be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. to collect trash, recycling, yard waste, and electronics. He encouraged residents to take trash and recycling to the centers as increased volume and staff shortages create long delays in curbside pickup.
But the city is also scrambling to keep up with the increased use of those sanitation centers.
Residents were turned away by staff at the center on Delaware Avenue in Port Richmond on Aug. 3, according to Streets Department spokesperson Crystal Jacobs.
“We received a report that some residents were turned away due to volume and fullness of bins at sanitation convenience centers,” Jacobs said. “This should not have happened.”
Jacobs said the Streets Department has made adjustments to handle the increased volume at sanitation centers, including adding compactors for trash and recycling.
The city reported a 29% increase in visits to sanitation centers between April 1 and July 31 compared with last year. There were 53,345 visits during those months in 2019, compared to 68,685 this year.
“We are pleased that residents are using the convenience centers and appreciate their cooperation during this crisis,” Jacobs said.
The city is in the process of hiring 120 temporary workers to help with trash and recycling collection for the next six months. Recycling pickup has seen particularly long delays, with bins sitting on curbs in some neighborhoods for more than a week. Tropical Storm Isaias further slowed crews last week.
The Streets Department announced that pickup this week will run one day behind schedule, because workers spent Monday collecting recycling that was skipped in recent weeks.
“Residents should anticipate the possibility of additional delays as the department continues to balance increased tonnage and staff shortages,” the Streets Department said.
Philadelphia’s sanitation center locations are:
Other cities have struggled to keep up with trash pickup during the coronavirus pandemic. Locally, Upper Darby Township announced last week that it would quarantine all of its more than 60 sanitation workers for two weeks after several tested positive.
The township announced Monday that school bus drivers and a private company would step in to help with weekly trash pickup.