City officials announced today that the updated Litter Index data for 2018 is now live. The Litter Index is a map-based survey of the litter conditions on Philadelphia’s streets, vacant lots, parks and recreation sites, riverways, transit stations, and other public spaces. Along with identifying what types of litter they see, City surveyors give a 1-4 litter score, with 1 being the cleanest and 4 being the most littered. With the data collected through these surveys, the City creates an indexed map of litter conditions across Philadelphia.
The 2019 Litter Index Report also released today shows in-depth findings from the annual survey of litter conditions across the city. After completing the second year of City-wide Litter Index surveys in 2018, we compared the 2017 and 2018 data.
Here are our main takeaways:
- City-wide average Litter Index scores differed (up by just 0.06 on a 1 to 4 point scale) between 2017 and 2018.
- Most blocks that were moderately or heavily littered in 2017 scored better in 2018, while a majority of blocks that were minimally littered stayed the same.
- The most common types of reported litter include: paper/cardboard, bottles and cans, takeout packaging, snack bags or wrappers, and plastic bags.
- The most commonly reported litter type on heavily littered blocks was construction debris, also known as illegal dumping.
Changes in litter scores are due to expansion of areas surveyed and better quality control of the data. More blocks and park areas were included in 2018 for a more comprehensive dataset. 22,029 blocks were surveyed in 2017, while 23,523 blocks were surveyed in 2018. In addition, staff conducting the Litter Index in 2018 received a more thorough training including a new manual and instructional video to further standardize the process.
“The 2019 Litter Index Report shows how multiple City departments are using the data to inform their programs and policy-making,” said Managing Director Brian Abernathy. “We will continue to build on this dataset as we work with communities and our partners toward a cleaner Philadelphia for all.”
City departments will continue to use the Litter Index data to make data-driven decisions on operations and policy. Data compiled through the Litter Index is used to prioritize how City allocates it resources such as illegal dumping camera placement and enforcement activity, trash can locations, and identifying neighborhoods for the City’s pilot street sweeping program. The data is also being used by Philadelphia residents, community groups, and academic partners.
“The Litter Index is the key to taking a proactive approach to combating litter,” said Zero Waste and Litter Director Nic Esposito. “We can now compare litter scores to 311 service request locations to see where we need to do outreach to increase 311 use among residents and we are using the data to identify the neighborhoods hardest hit by litter and illegal dumping to better understand where and how we need to invest resources and attention.”
To learn more about the report’s findings and how the Litter Index data is used, click here to read the 2019 Litter Index Report. Click here to read the 2-page summary.
Click here to search your score and learn how to keep your neighborhood clean. If you search your address and find that your area does not have a resource (like a Block Captain, watershed group, or Park Friends group), you can to learn how to get involved and bring that resource to your neighborhood.