Illegal dumping is a problem many, if not all municipalities face. Polluted waterways and contaminated soil created by illegal dumping generates risks to public health and the overall quality of the environment. Reduced property values and vandalism can also stem from the sense of neglect created by littering, a problem that often accompanies illegal dumping.
There are organizations in multiple southwestern PA counties that can assist with eradicating this blight. Allegheny CleanWays works “to engage and empower people in Allegheny County to eliminate illegal dumping.” Removing trash from illegal dump sites lowers risks to public health, improves the natural environment, and leads to increased property values.
Since its inception in 2001, Allegheny CleanWays, through volunteers and staff, have removed more than four million pounds of debris, including more than 20,000 tires and hundreds of thousands of pounds of metal and other recyclables. In just the four hilltop City of Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Beltzhoover, Knoxville, Allentown, and Hazelwood, Allegheny CleanWays removed 372 tons of debris and tires.
Allegheny CleanWays is Allegheny County’s affiliate of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, which is Pennsylvania’s affiliate of the national Keep America Beautiful organization. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful has affiliates in 36 Pennsylvania counties, including Allegheny, Butler, Fayette, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland Counties in Southwest Pennsylvania. You can find out more about your County’s affiliate on Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s website.
Illegal dumping can be deterred by the community in numerous ways, including awareness campaigns, creating procedural barriers, and making it easier for people to dispose of waste properly. Having municipal code officials ask for weigh slips, building, and demo permits are just a few specific ways to create barriers for those looking for the easy (dirty) way out. Supporting programs to collect hard to recycle items at the curbside and enlisting volunteers to act as local stewards can be helpful as well.
If you have questions about how to prevent illegal dumping in your municipalities or would like to have Allegheny CleanWays or your County’s affiliate work in your area, please contact Janée Romesberg, Programs Director, Janee.email@example.com; (412) 381-1301.
And if you see a dump site in the region? Report it here!