Philadelphia's Plans for a Cleaner City

Philadelphia's Plans for a Cleaner City

Philadelphia’s Plans for a Cleaner City


Litter has long been a concern for the residents of Philadelphia in the US, and the authorities, and campaign groups are constantly on the lookout for solutions to the problem.

The latest is a joint effort between the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and the Streets Department, which is aiming to encourage people to use bins, by making them look more attractive. Young people came up with designs for the bins, then drew them and painted them onto bins at 50 locations across the city.

Why did the initiative come about?

The local authority believes that if the bins look more pleasing, then people will use them, and it also makes them look better to people who visit the city.

Residents have already voiced their approval and have given great feedback that the bins look much nicer and that they think that they will encourage more people to put their rubbish in the bin.

Zero waste ambitions

Philadelphia has joined other big cities like New York and Los Angeles in creating a zero-waste goal to reach 90% recycling by 2035.

The mayor put together a committee including representatives from the city planning and development departments, local schools, and Keep Philadelphia Beautiful. The committee has been given the task if creating an action plan to reduce waste and litter by reducing landfill and incineration, preventing litter, and taking action on the illegal dumping of waste. They also plan to get residents more involved in keeping their own neighbourhoods clean.

Using technology to combat the problem

As well as the bin art, officials have used a more technological solution to the litter problem. They carried out a detailed count of every piece of litter they found and then used software to produce a comprehensive survey. The data from the survey will then give officials detailed information on where the litter hotspots are and where they need to target their resources. City officials will carry out 2 extensive city-wide surveys each year.

How will the results be used?

Officials will be able to use the results to direct their resources to the most heavily-littered areas, and they’ll also be working with researchers from a local university on a behavioural science approach to reducing litter.

The theory is, if people see the litter data, and see the authorities doing something about it, they’re less likely to litter and add to the problem. The deeper reasons why litter might be a problem in certain areas will also be looked at, such as high crime rates for example. Where there is a lot of crime, people are less likely to be invested in keeping their neighbourhood clean.

The city is also looking to create a dashboard, so they have an at-a-glance reference point for what is going on in different neighbourhoods.