Here’s Why Your Trash Is Being Picked Up Late in Philly

A new report says 80,000 households have not had their garbage picked up on time recently.

Has your trash been picked up late in the past few months?

If so, you’re not alone. In the last two years, a whopping 80,000 households in Philadelphia have not had their trash collected on time on any given week, according to a new report by City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

Butkovitz has a theory about why this is happening.

He says the city needs 324 trash compactors — a/k/a garbage trucks — but at times it’s been equipped with only 240. Currently, 288 vehicles are on deck. Butkovitz says a third of the city’s compactors are also outdated, ranging from 10 to 20 years old.

That’s why the city’s trash collection rate has dropped from 96 percent in 2013-14 to 85 percent in 2014-15, Butkovitz says. To make matters worse, he says this has increased the city’s overtime costs for trash collection from $1.2 million to $3.5 million annually.

There is some good news, though.

“The Streets Department’s management should be recognized for making sure that all of the trash is eventually collected even with having fewer resources over the years,” says Butkovitz in a statement. “When there have been delays, the streets department has contacted residents to provide an updated collection schedule.”

Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter, says Philadelphia will be getting 30 new trash compactors in July.

“The Streets Department began to deal with the compactor issue proactively last year when it secured funding for additional trucks,” he says. “In addition, we plan to lease 20 more trucks in June and [we’ve established] a second shift for some employees, thereby reducing overtime.”

He says the city’s trash compactors have suffered from wear-and-tear due during the past two rough winters, and that they also aged considerably when the budget was tight in the Great Recession.

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