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September 22, 2020

Philly to launch maps app that tracks trash, recycling collection

PHLPickUp goes live with real-time interface on Oct. 1

Government Sanitation
Philly trash app Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

The PHLPickUp app will provide an interactive, color-coded map of trash and recycling collection in Philadelphia. The app is scheduled to launch publicly on Oct. 1.

The repeated delays in trash and recycling pickup this summer left many Philadelphia residents frustrated as refuse sometimes sat in the streets for days.

Residents soon will have an app to track and monitor collection efforts across the city.

The Streets Department announced Tuesday that it will launch the new PHLPickUp app on Oct. 1, providing an interactive tool that offers direct access to the city's residential sanitation services. 

"The Streets Department recognizes delays in trash and recycling collections have a significant impact throughout the city, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic," Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams said. "PickupPHL was created to help residents check collection status in almost real-time and provide a user-friendly and practical interface to put information directly in the hand of residents."

The map-based app offers a view of the Sanitation Division's truck routing, enabling residents to determine if – and when – a block has been visited by trash and recycling trucks. Users also will be able to identify where collections are taking place using a color-coded system overlaid on the map.

With PHLPickUp, residents will be able to view current updates on trash and recycling collections and a submit a report directly to 311 through the platform. Certain complaints, such as requests to pick up bulk items such as furniture, will still need to be called in directly to 311.

Worker absenteeism and a 25-30% increase in residential trash tonnage have led to persistent delays in trash and recycling collection during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city also has attributed delays to severe weather events that have compounded the other issues.

The city has averaged 3,000-6,000 additional tons of trash per week since March 2020 compared to 2019, Williams said. Worker attendance hit an all-time low in July, but has since been bolstered by part-time reinforcements hired by the city.

Complaints to 311 peaked in July at nearly 7,000 for trash collection and 3,500 for recycling collection. Those numbers have come down to the hundreds in both categories in September.

"Clean and safe streets are one of our residents’ top priorities," Mayor Jim Kenney said. "With PickupPHL, residents now have almost real-time access to track trash and recycling collections. This new tool further demonstrates our administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability in city services."

The PHLPickUp app is part of a bundle of tools in the StreetSmartPHL platform, which also includes interactive maps for paving, permits and, in the near future, snow plowing.