I thought my question was clear -‘Why can’t Chester use the trash incinerator?

I thought my suggestion was reasonable – ‘Let’s have Convanta provide a dumpster on their site for Chester folks to bring trash that would otherwise pile up in back alleys and empty lots.’ 

To many, that question and suggestion was considered an attack, unreasonable, and ridiculous. 

Why am I not surprised?

The last couple days I received phone calls asking me to write something about the trash not being picked up on trash day. So, here it is…

‘Trash isn’t being picked up on trash day.’

I told both callers to turn on the tv or pick up a newspaper and see what’s going on in Philly. There’s tons more trash due to folks being home more than normal; trash men are complaining about PPE; they’re getting COVID; they’re calling out. These aren’t normal times.

In my Chester neighborhood, if they miss trash day, I’m happy when they come the next day to get my trash, but I do get a little concerned when it takes longer than that. 

I watched Cory Long’s ‘Making a Change’ internet show featuring Chester’s trash situation this morning. City officials explained the challenges they face with regular trash pickup due to all the issues I listed above. Bulk trash pick up was affected by city worker layoffs and they’re in the process of catching up now. 

The officials talked of their losing battle trying to combat illegal dumping by haulers coming in from out of town, those who don’t have permission to dump their loads at Covanta, and landlords who are required to manage their own bulk trash from clean outs yet leave it for the city to pick up. There was nothing said in that conversation that convinced me the dumping problem is going to get better any time soon. 

There was mention of a few successful and ongoing grassroots efforts doing community cleanups. Cory’s organization is planning one which includes placing large dumpsters around the city and have them taken away soon after the event in hopes that the illegal dumpers don’t fill them up before they get hauled. 

Timely trash collection is a new problem in Chester and is mainly due to COVID. Illegal dumping is getting worse by the year. But littering is a long term Chester issue.

It’s difficult watching people throw trash out their cars. I followed a school a few blocks and watched kids throw dozens of emtpy bags of chips out the window. There’s a lot of take-out eating going on in Chester and people walk down the street eating food and toss the containers on the ground wherever they finish their meal. Even the way people put their trash out for pick up is a form of littering when it’s not tied in a bag or placed in a trash can. The wind blows that trash all around and the animals have their way eating through bags, especially if the bags have to sit out an extra day or two waiting for pickup.

Mayor Barbarann Keffer of Upper Darby just launched a beautification program meant to clean up neighborhoods and to ease the job of public works and public safety employees. (See https://www.delcotimes.com/news/upper-darby-rolls-out-new-beautification-effort/article_cf5eeb5a-c791-11ea-aa23-4b6251e0ccff.html)

Sometimes it’s just a matter of a public policy initiative or even a change of name from ‘trash’ to ‘beautification’ that can start to make a difference in how this issue is addressed. 

The trash issue in Chester isn’t going away any time soon. To get it under control will take a steady and coordinated effort among residents, community groups, property owners, government, and the business community. 

I’ve heard several people say they talk to the people at the Covanta trash incinerator. If they’d like to bring me along to propose my idea of having them provide a dumpster on their site for Chester folks to use, I’d make myself available to work out the details with them. 


p.s. The very first blog post I ever wrote as the CCityBlogger in April 2010 was entitled ‘Chester is Trashy.’ And look, 10-years later, we’re still at it.