Category Archives: Philadelphia Litter

Why Didn’t TV Dumper Use One of PHL’s 6 Sanitation Convenience Centers?

A vigilant 311 reported submitted this image at 01/05/2017 07:33:19 AM showing a dumped TV at 5800 Kemble Street.

large_rackmultipart20170104-21811-1qre2ng

Lets look at this dump site and the City’s Sanitation Convenience Centers.

san_conv_centers_5800_kemble_dumpThree of the 6 Centers are sjhown on this map along with the TV dump site to show the distance between teh dump site and a proper disposal site.

The Strawberry  Mansion and NW Center are about 6 miles from this TV dump site. The dumper had a choice, he/she could have taken the old TV to one of these stations 6 days of the week, yet chose to dump it on the street corner. Why?

There are 2 main reasons why TVs get dumped on our streets:

  1. Many, if not most, Philadelphians are not aware of the City’s Sanitation Convenience Centers and their acceptance of old TVs and other electronic 6 days  a week as well as mattresses, tires and other typical dump materials..
  2. The Dumper knows about the City’s Centers but simply chose to dump, rather than take the little extra time to bring it to one o fhte Centers.

The City’s San Convenience centers are an excellent program to try and help City residents handle trash between trash collection days.

Here are 4 simple recommendations for how the City can increase use of these Centers and reduce illegal street dumping:

  1. Public Service Announcements by all elected (City, State, Federal) officials in Philadelphia advising their constituents of the location of the nearest Convenience Center, days of operation and list of materials accepted.
  2. All Philadelphia Community Development Corporations and Neighborhood distribute public service announcements to their participants about the city’s Sanitation Convenience Centers.
  3. Mayor Kenney’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet review the success of the 6 centers and assess whether additional centers in high dump areas could help reduce illegal dumping.
  4. Mayor Kenney’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet conduct pilot study to see if a  neighborhood based services can be provided to collect materials from eligible residents and transfer this material to a Convenience Center.  This could help in those situation where resident needs help to get the trash to one of the 6 Centers.

 

Making Movie of Philadelphia’s 311 Illegal Dumping Service Requests (Dec 1-14, 2016)

Philadelphia gets tens of thousands of 311 illegal dumping service requests each year.  As shown in previous posts, OpenDataPhilly’s 311 service data can provide key information on Philadelphia’s trash hot spots (here, here).

In this post, I’d like to walk through how I downloaded 311 illegal dump service requests for the first 2 weeks of December, 2016, identified the requests where residents submitted photos, downloaded the dump photos and then made a YouTube video of selected photos by trash type to show the diversity of dumped material in just this 2 week period.

Overview of 311 Data Retrieval and Analysis

Here’s the 7 step process I used to download and process the Philadelphia’s 12/1/16 to 12/14/16 311 service request data:

  1. Download each Illegal Dumping Service Request from OpenDataPhilly using R, an  open source software statistical software system.
  2. Assign Each Service Request to City Council District with point-in-polygon tool available in R
  3. Identify Service Requests that Include Media Url
  4. Download Illegal Dumping Service Request Photos from urls
  5. Manually Review Photos, Organize by type (Tires, Residential trash, furniture, mattresses, etc)
  6. Create video of representative dump photos by trash type
  7. Post video on YouTube

I used free, open source – public access resources, including R, Rsocrata, OpenDataPhilly and YouTube.

Let’s take a look at the resulting video to get a sense for what can be done with on-line 311 data. Here’s a link to the YouTube video:

Philadelphians reported 706 dumping service requests to 311 in the 12/1 to 12/14/16 period.  175 of these dump requests included photos, nearly 25%  of the dump service requests.

I grouped the dump requests into 6 categories based on dominant trash in the photo:

  • Tires
  • Residential Trash
  • Bulk Items, Furniture
  • Mattresses
  • Construction Debris
  • TVs

In previous posts, I’ve geocoded  the dump requests by Council District, neighborhood and street segments to help identify hot spots.

Philadelphia neighborhood groups, City Councilors, concerned residents can use the same 311 data to track neighborhood or Council District conditions.  Please contact me if  you would like more information on how to access Philadelphia’s 311 data to assess problems in your neighborhood.

Trash Free Maryland’s Trash Trawl

Short video by Julie Lawson on Trash Free Maryland’s 2015 Trash Trawl.

 

Time to start planning the 2016 Delaware River – Bay Trash Trawl!

Water Pollution Stages of Philadelphia’s Plastic Litter

Have you wondered what happens to Philadelphia’s plastic litter? This pdf shows the water pollution  stages of Philadelphia’s plastic litter. here is a slideshow of a recent talk.

You can download a pdf of this talk here.

 

Microplastics Research Update

I have been assembling a bibliography of marine litter – microplastic research and wanted to give a short update on my findings to date.  My current microplastic bibliography is available here.

Springer has just released a 460 page open source book (link) on Marine Anthropogenic Litter which covers the entire marine – freshwater microplastic research field very well.

Marine_Anthropogenic_Litter

This book provides up-to-date information by the leading microplastic researchers.  Microplastic ingestion has been observed and documented in hundreds of marine species.

More recently, elevated microplastics levels have been found in the  Great Lakes, North Shore Channel, Hudson River and Chesapeake Bay, so there is reason to be concerned about expect elevated levels in the Schuylkill – Delaware Rivers.

Microplastics_freshwater

Sewage treatment plants have been identified as one source of microplastic discharge. Researchers have sampled for microplastics in the Chicago area North Shore Channel, upstream and downstream of  Chicago area’s  Terrence J O‘Brien Water Reclamation Plant and have found elevated levels of microplastics downstream of the plant discharge.

Microplastics_Chicago_WRP

Table 1 of the paper is reproduced below:

Terrence_OBrien_WRP_micoplastics_data

This Chicago activated sludge treatment plant discharges very high levels of microplastic fibers and fragments with values considerably higher than those found in the Great Lakes and N Pacific, as shown in Figure 1 from the paper.

Microplastics_Great_Lakes_vs_TJ_OBrien_WRP

If follow-up studies confirm the North Shore Channel and TJ O’Brien plant microplastic discharge levels, then urban rivers and municipal treatment plant discharges will be identified as potential significant sources of marine microplastics.

Microplastics in  the marine environment has been well researched.  Work on microplastics in freshwater  is just beginning. The role of wastewater treatment plants and stormwater runoff will be important focus of upcoming research.

Philadelphia is in a particularly difficult situation. Downstream of large – developed basins, Philadelphia’s Schuylkill and Delaware River water supply intakes likely see elevated microplastics levels and the City’s 3 wastewater treatment plants and stormwater runoff likely contribute  microplastics to the Delaware Estuary and Bay.

We know microplastics present a serious challenge to the marine environment, recent freshwater research is showing that microplastics are also a freshwater challenge. Clearly we need a research program focused on microplastics in the Schuylkill – Delaware Rivers.

 

Understanding Schuylkill River Bank Plastic Bottle Trash

The Schuylkill River from the Girard Ave Bridge to Fairmount Dam has a significant plastic bottle accumulation along the West bank (link, link). Geomorphology  can help us understand why.

The Schuylkill, like many rivers, meanders with numerous bends as it makes its way from the headwaters to the Delaware River.  These bends play an important role in the shape and life of the river. Bend outside banks tends to erode while the inside banks tend to form point bars.

Source: http://www.chartiersgreenway.net/hydrology.htm

Let’s take a look at the Schuylkill from just upriver of Girard Ave Bridge to Fairmount Dam.

Girard_2_FAirmount_Dam

 

You can see 2 bends in the River, the bend near Girard Ave Bridge and the bend by Boat House Row.  The mud flats on the West bank of the River by the Girard Ave. Bridge have been formed by point bar type deposition of sediment on the inner bank of the River. These mud flats have proven to be an effective natural plastic bottle trash trap, as shown in this photo of the West Bank taken on 4/11/15.

Photo by Kelly O'Day

Most of these bottles have been carried by stormwater to the Schuylkill and have flowed downriver. During high flow periods some bottles accumulate along the inner curve of the River bends and get stranded when the River flow recedes.

The Girard Ave mud flats are an excellent location to monitor the Schuylkill River plastic trash  load over time. The Schuylkill Navy has cleaned approximately 1,300 feet of the West bank so that future plastic accumulation rates can be measured at this location.

TTF Watershed Litter Code Violations

The Tacony-Frankford Creek has a major stormwater trash problem, as discussed here, here and here.

In this post, I want to show how to map watershed boundaries, Philadelphia City Council District Boundaries and litter Code Violation Notice data to show the geographic relationships between chronic litter areas, stormwater flow and creek trash.

Here is my map:

TTF_CVN_by_CD

I made this map using ESRI’s ArcMap and Philadelphia’s open  Code Violation Notice data. There were 6,258 litter code violations in the Philadelphia portion of the TTF Watershed. The Tacony Creek Park, highlighted in data green in the map, receives a large load of stormwater litter that gets caught along the banks and in vegetation along the banks.