Tag Archives: plastic bags

The Pennsylvania Story: More Plastic Pollution in the Making

My new video shows how Marcellus shale gas is changing economics of plastic production, increasing risks of plastic pollution and climate change.


History of Philadelphia’s Plastic Litter Battle

The Schuylkill Navy Rivers Stewards Committee held a Street Litter – River Trash workshop on 11/19/15 that included representatives from the with Philadelpha’s Streets-Water-Parks & Recreation Departments as well a number of other groups.

I presented a talk on the history of Philadelphia’s plastic litter. Here are links pdf and PowerPoint copies of my talk.

Plastic Bags – The Economists Video

Plastic Bags Trashing Tacony Creek Park

I conducted a photo survey of plastic bags and other trash in a small area of Tacony Creek Park along Cresentville Road from Hammond Ave to Adams Ave on Sunday, April 26, 2015. This map shows this area of the Park.


Click any photo to launch the gallery slide show.

Groups like the Tookany-Tacony-Frankford Creek Watershed Partnership have many volunteer cleanups throughout the year. Unfortunately, the litter load is too much for the volunteers and the City’s Streets and Parks & Recreation Department to keep up. We must begin to reduce the plastic trash load by reducing the use of unnecessary plastic in our.

Please help protect Tacony Creek park, our neighborhoods and creeks by supporting Councilman Mark Squilla’s Philadelphia Single Use bag fee bill 150373 before Philadelphia City Council.

Please let you City Councilor know that you care about our Parks, Creeks and Rivers an that you support Bill 150373.


Philadelphia Plastic Bag Street Litter Video


Into the Gyre Film Screening – Sept. 6

The Sea Education Association (SEA) has been studying plastic accumulation in the North  Atlantic for many years. Into the Gyre is a 44 minute documentary about a 5 week expedition to the North Atlantic sub-tropical gyre, east of Bermuda. This brief trailer gives a taste for the full documentary.

Pa Senator Daylin Lynch is holding a free film screening and panel discussion of Into the Gyre on Saturday, September 6 from 10:45 – noon at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. RSVP information on this event notice.

Film_Screening_Flyer (2)

PWD Outfalls Dump Street Litter in Tacony Creek

PWD outfalls discharge large quantities of street litter to the Tookany – Tacony – Frankford (TTF)  Creek which hurts the Creek,  Tacony Creek Park and the Friends Hospital. Too much of Philadelphia’s street litter flows into PWD’s stormwater inlets during rain events, passes through the inlet traps and is carried by storm sewer or combined sewer to an outfall where it is discharged to the TTF Creek.

I have found several chronic Creek locations along the banks of the TTF Creek that are seriously hurt by PWD litter laden stormwater outfall discharges:

  • Rock Creek below PWD outfall T-01 (link)
  • Mill Run below PWD outfall T-088-01 (link)
  • Tacony Creek: Roosevelt Blvd to Friends Hospital, below PWD outfalls T-08, T09,  T-10, T-11, T-12, T-13 (link)

The severity of PWD’s litter laden stormwater discharge has become very evident to me over the course of my TTF Creek Trash Photo Surveys. In an  August, 2013 post I showed how some street litter plastic bags pass through PWD’s stormwater inlet traps and are discharged to the TTF Creek.

On September 23, 2013 I resurveyed Tacony Creek from Roosevelt Blvd to Friends Hospital and found that the Creek banks were as littered in September, 2013 as they were in  August –  October, 2012. This in spite of significant volunteer clean-up efforts organized by the TTF Watershed Partnership, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Scattergood Foundation, United by Blue, Philadelphia Water Department, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful and others. These cleanups have removed a large quantity of illegally dumped material, Park visitor litter and stormwater litter. Yet a great quantity of litter remains in and along the Creek.

This slideshow shows the Tacony Creek from Roosevelt Blvd to Friends Hospital on 9/23/13. It shows PWD’s 6 outfalls and the extensive Creek trash along the banks of this 0.8 mile stretch of Creek.

Click link or image to view 9/23/13 Tacony Creek Trash Tour
PWD Outfalls & Tacony Creek Trash

Let’s take a look at the 1,950 acre (3 square mile) stormwater drainage area for PWD’s T-08 outfall which discharges to the Tacony Creek just upstream of Roosevelt Blvd, noted in the blue shading in this map.

Click image to enlarge map

Too much of the street litter from this 3 square mile, densely populated drainage area is winding up along the banks of Tacony Creek from Roosevelt Blvd to Friends Hospital. Street litter from residents, businesses and visitors  in Cedarbrook, East & West Oak Lane is hurting Tacony Creek, yet these distant Creek trash contributors are oblivious to the damage that their street litter is doing to the TTF Creek 1 – 2 miles from where they dump their plastic bag or food wrapper.

Volunteer cleanups  along Tacony Creek in this area help,  however, volunteers simply can not keep pace with the volume of  street litter that makes its way to PWD’s T-08 and the 5 other outfalls in this short stretch of Creek.

The City’s Water,  Streets and Parks & Recreation Departments are working hard to revitalize and restore the Creek and Tacony Creek Park with Creek restoration and new/enhanced trail projects. Interested groups like the TTF Watershed  Partnership, Scattergood Foundation and Keep Philadelphia Beautiful are holding neighborhood events to encourage neighborhood ownership of the Park and Creek.

These efforts are helpful and needed, however, they do not address the underlying problem of street litter fouling Tacony Creek. Significant litter prevention and more effective floatables controls need to be more aggressively pursued to stem the flow of street litter flowing out of PWD outfalls and into the TTF Creek. More aggressive litter prevention and floatable controls need to be recognized as critical components of PWD’s Green City, Clean Water Program if we hope to have a litter free TTF Creek.

Litter reduction needs to go hand-in-hand with run-off reduction. The Green City, Clean Waters program is not providing the full message.