No one loves the smell of trash wafting through the air. But when there’s been a delay in trash pickup, what are you supposed to do about it?

Why is my trash or recycling pickup delayed?

Delays in Philadelphia trash and recycling pickups happen sometimes. You can find your neighborhood pickup schedule here.

Trash pickup in Philadelphia may be delayed by one day after the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

  • President’s Day

  • Good Friday

  • Memorial Day

  • Juneteenth

  • Independence Day

  • Labor Day

  • Columbus Day

  • Veterans Day

  • Thanksgiving Day

  • Christmas Day

When to call 311 about trash delays

Call 311 if your garbage or recycling is still there more than 48 hours after it was supposed to be picked up.

If you just want to know when to put your trash out, check the Streets Department website’s service updates section. This will inform you about trash and recycling schedules. But note, the exact pickup day is still subject to change.

“The volume of material can vary across the city, making it difficult to predict an exact schedule for pickup,” states the Streets Department website.

Where you can take your trash

Yes, trash delays can be frustrating for everyone, and we’re all tired of staring at soggy pizza boxes outside the front window. But there are centers where you can dispose of your own trash. They’re called Philadelphia’s Sanitation Convenience Centers. There are six throughout the city.

Locations are:

You’ll need to cart your own trash there. But drop-offs are free, and open from Monday to Saturday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If you want to avoid crowds, city Deputy Streets Commissioner Keith Warren recommends going before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m., but even if there’s a line when you arrive, the process is typically quick. Warren says you can expect to spend five to 10 minutes moving through the drop-off process.

Philadelphia’s Sanitation Convenience Center drop-off process

Visits to the Sanitation Convenience Center are outdoors. You must wear a mask, and you must show proof that you’re a city resident. The centers are gated. When you arrive, you’ll need to show a valid ID (or a piece of mail with your city address on it) to an attendant. The attendant will then direct you on where to go depending on what kind of trash you’re hauling. The centers are organized into sections for different categories of trash, including regular household trash; recycling; electronics; appliances; bulk items like furniture; yard waste; and tires.

What’s accepted

You’re allowed to drop off regular household items once a day and oversized items once a week.

“We take almost anything as long as it’s not hazardous,” says Warren.

This includes:

  • Household trash (up to 12 bags)

  • Recyclable materials, as part of the City’s Recycling Program

  • Automotive tires (limited to four per day)

  • Bulk items, large metal household items and appliances including fridges, freezers, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and water coolers (limited to two per day)

  • Yard waste (accepted for recycling; must be in paper bags and free of contamination) and Christmas trees

  • E-waste, including computers, monitors, televisions, and other computer-related equipment

  • Latex- or water-based paint cans (if partially full, add an absorbent material such as cat litter or newspaper prior to disposal to solidify the paint)

  • Mattresses and box springs, unwrapped

Warren says that the centers are temporarily operating under flexible rules, so if you show up with more than what’s normally allowed (see above), the centers may accept it anyway.

“We’ve found some communities have banded together, where the guy with the pickup truck goes around and gathers everyone’s trash, and so we’ll take more than the normal limit,” says Warren. “It’s judged case by case, but if it isn’t for some type of for-profit business, we’ll work with you.”

Commercial contractors and vehicles carrying commercial loads aren’t allowed to drop off trash at the centers.

This article has been updated since it first published.

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