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Trash, recycling & composting continuing during COVID19 crisis
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Trash, recycling & composting continuing during COVID19 crisis

The coronavirus has caused a lot of changes to our daily lives. Waste collection, however, will remain the same for now.

Following a series of declarations from the Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Philly Mayor Jim Kenney and a spate of official health organizations, the city of Philadelphia on Monday announced restrictions on various commercial activity.

While many businesses are physically closed until at least March 27, the city deemed certain services, like waste collection, as “essential.”

Green Philly checked with the Streets Department – and local residential composting services – to see if Philly residents should do anything differently with their household waste.

Yes, trash day is still happening

Garbage and recycling collections remain on their regular schedule, the Streets Department said Wednesday. You can double-check which day the trucks come through your neighborhood on the department’s website.

The city agency has also extended hours at its Sanitation Convenience Centers (click here for locations), which are now open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The centers allow Philly residents to drop off up to 12 bags of rubbish, and certain bulk items for free.

Some reminders for residents:

  • Plastic trash bags should be tied
  • If setting out a trash can, use a lid so trash doesn’t blow away
  • Continue following the regular trash set-out times and other trash day rules

Composting will continue

Soon after the public learned of the city’s business restrictions, Circle Compost, Bennett Compost and other composting services issued their own updates online.

Both Philadelphia-based compost pickup companies said their services will continue until further notice and also noted their primary concern is the health and safety of their staff, customers and the public.

“At this time, the city of Philadelphia is continuing municipal trash pickup services and Circle Compost will follow their lead,” Circle owners Dave and Michele Bloovman wrote in an e-newsletter.

“You do not need adjust your current composting habits. Keep filling up the buckets and we’ll empty them,” their update said.

According to an Instagram post from Bennett Compost, it is “planning to do compost collections on our normal schedule unless directed by the city to cease operations, or if we are unable to for [the] well-being of our staff.”

Mother Compost, which serves the Main Line, issued a similar statement, saying its service will continue without disruption and

“In addition, all MC collection members will sanitize after each stop, continue to use protective gloves & wear face masks on route during the upcoming weeks,” the Instagram post said.

Circle also said it’s worth remembering that “funky, moldy, and even buggy buckets are normal.” Companies clean the buckets’ interiors after dumping the food scraps.

If you want to take extra Composting precautions:

  • Clean the exterior and rim of the bucket with dish soap and water
  • Sanitize it with 1 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water mixed
  • Let it air dry

One final reminder: Wash your hands after handling food scraps or taking out the trash.


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Alison Burdo
Alison Burdo is a project manager with Green Philly, focusing on the development and execution of its coverage of the Delaware Watershed. A Philadelphia-based journalist for the past seven years, Burdo most recently supported the launch of the Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting. Her experience includes reporting exclusive, enterprise stories on the 2015 papal visit and the 2016 Democratic National Convention; leading an investigation into the epidemic of unsolved missing persons cases; and regularly breaking news related to Philadelphia's precedent-setting soda tax. View all posts by Alison Burdo

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