When John Jaros got a $50 fine for putting his trash at the curb too early, one question sprang to mind: How early is too early?
“Is there a time on the day before your trash is picked up before which you cannot put your trash and recycling containers at the curb?” Jaros, of East Oak Lane, asked Curious Philly.
Curious Philly is The Inquirer’s portal where readers ask us questions, and our reporters hunt down the answers. Readers had a lot of questions about trash.
“I thought it was ludicrous," said Jaros, 79, said of the citation. "I mean, Who gets punished for putting their trash out?”
As it turns out, there is such thing as being too early, said Keisha McCarty-Skelton, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Streets Department.
During the sanitation division’s winter schedule, which runs from Oct. 1 through March 31, trash and recycling should be set out between 5 p.m. the night before and 7 a.m. the day of collection, she said.
The summer schedule runs April 1 through Sept. 30 and residents may not put their trash out until 7 p.m. the night before collection.
Trash set out before the allotted times is considered litter, even if it is in the proper location and the proper receptacle, according to the Street Department’s sanitation regulations.
Here’s what else readers wanted to know about trash collection:
That was Robert Wing’s question.
The sanitation division is responsible for collecting trash from over 540,000 households. Wing wondered just how often the trucks get washed.
McCarty-Skelton said the trucks do get cleaned. But there’s no regular schedule. Garbage trucks are cleaned inside and out on an as-needed basis, she said.
A few readers wanted to know about the rules for keeping trash outside your house.
You can, but only if your block is part of Philacan, a special city program, McCarty-Skelton said. Philacan allows residents to store designated trash cans outside their homes until trash day.
“To assist residents that are challenged with trash storage the Streets Department is piloting Philacan, a residential program to allow certain neighborhoods to store a designated can in front of their homes through a written agreement with the Streets Department,” McCarty-Skelton said.
The Philacan pilot program launched in 2018 in North Philadelphia, and has since been expanded citywide, she said. To enroll, three-quarters of residents on a block must be on board.
Any other cans are only allowed to be set out during the sanitation divisions’s regulated times, McCarty-Skelton said.
In New York, residents in some neighborhoods have CITIBINS, attractive enclosures for people’s trash cans that they can keep in front of their homes. Can Philadelphians do the same?
“A permit is required to store a Dumpster or closed container,” McCarty-Skelton said, adding that closed containers must be kept in a clean and neat condition so they don’t create litter that may get in the way of pedestrians and traffic.