Harrisburg, PA considers $1K illegal dumping fine in waste code overhaul

Dive Brief:

  • Harrisburg, PA has struggled to keep up with mounting piles of illegally dumped waste around the city and has decided stiffer enforcement may be the answer. A proposed ordinance would allow officials to fine residents up to $1,000 plus the cost of cleaning, as reported by PennLive.
  • The city's current code allows fines to be set by judges, which can be as low as $50. In addition to raising that amount, the city is also considering increased penalties for overstuffed bins or excess bags left out with bins.
  • These proposals are all part of a broad overhaul of Harrisburg's waste and recycling ordinances. Local council members plan to organize public meetings through the summer to get feedback from residents and educate them about upcoming changes.

Dive Insight:

Harrisburg has been continuously updating its solid waste policies in recent years to improve finances. This has included finding unbilled accounts through an audit, reclaiming commercial accounts from private haulers and looking at ways to make collections more efficient. Based on recent municipal trends a renewed focus on illegal dumping isn't a surprising addition to that list of priorities.

Cities around the country have been trying a range of tactics to crack down on illegal dumping that can lead to blight conditions, marine pollution, or cause other environmental damage. A community service has been proposed in New York. Oakland has increased cleanup funding and started using cameras that can read license plates. Baltimore recently opened up a municipal transfer station to small commercial haulers in an effort to cut down on long landfill trips.

Across the state, Philadelphia is currently spending $1.4 million per year to clean illegal dumping and hopes to tackle it with a new litter index as part of its broader "zero waste" plan. With talks underway about renewing or updating Pennsylvania's solid waste fee and recycling law there could also be potential for Harrisburg to tap into new funding sources for a similar project. 

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Filed Under: Recycling Regulation
Top image credit: David Amsler