Could new trash can law solve litter epidemic?

Sam Newhouse

A bill introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown that passed City Council last week could soon require restaurants and convenience stores to have a trash can within 10 feet of their doors.

Locals experienced in dealing with trash issuesare optimistic that the new law could prove beneficial.

“I believe that if they had more cans out there … it would crack down on litter a lot,” said Ray Gant, head of The Ray of Hope Project, a neighborhood cleanup group.

“A lot of the times people are looking for places to throw their trash out — not everybody is looking to throw their trash on the street,” he said.

“It’s no secret thatPhiladelphia has a huge litter problem and things have to be done,” said Clean Water Action organizer Michael Roles. “Philadelphia’s Litter Index shows that areas with the heaviest litter problems exist along business corridors. This bill aims to get businesses which provide some of that trash to become better stewards of the community.”

“I get it with corner stores, as a lot of litter really does start there.So much of what I collected last year is the sort of stuff you find in corners stores and Wawas – plastic water bottles and Gatorade bottles, candy wrappers, chip bags,” said Bradley Maule, who recently exhibited trash he pulled out of the Wissahickon over a year at the Fairmount Water Works as part of “One Man’s Trash.”

“Extra trash cans, especially where they’re needed most like a corner store,seem like a suitable fix. They have to be wind- and critter-proof though. If they’re open-air baskets, you risk exacerbating the problem,” he said. “I don’t really make a connection to litter and restaurants, though. Presumably the only thing you’re leaving there with is a box of leftovers, and you’re not going to just throw that on the ground.”

Mayor Michael Nutter will have to make a decision on whether to sign the bill into law by May 21, a spokesman said.

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