As an unintended consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, state parks, state forests, game lands and communities are seeing an increase in littering, including personal protective equipment such as gloves, wipes, and masks as well as an increase of larger items being dumped.
If you come across an illegal dumpsite, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful wants you to report it as part of their Illegal Dump Free PA Program, https://illegaldumpfreepa.org/report-it/.
Dumpsite information will be logged and shared with local enforcement authorities, as well as local affiliates and state agency and other partners. Photos can be included in the report. Contact information of those reporting a site will be kept confidential. You can also report graffiti through this online form.
Many trash haulers have temporarily suspended recycling programs and large or bulky item pick-up because of worker safety and other limitations. Most, if not all bulky waste pick-ups and special collections of electronics, tires and appliances have been postponed until late summer or fall.
The increased litter and dumping puts an undue strain on the already reduced staff at state and municipal parks and recreation departments across the state. Responding to and cleaning up illegally dumped trash is taking up valuable time and resources that could be put to much better use during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The increase of litter and dumped trash is posing a threat to the environment as well as to those who clean it up. These items should be properly disposed of in the trash, not on the ground. Bulky items should be held onto until regular collections resume. There is never an acceptable time to litter or illegally dump. It’s reckless and unacceptable. It’s also a crime.” said Shannon Reiter, president of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.
Fines for littering and illegal dumping can be upwards of $1,000. In addition to paying a fine, offenders may also be required to pay restitution and/or perform community service.
To help protect Pennsylvanians’ health and safety, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful recently suspended its annual statewide Pick Up Pennsylvania initiative, which supports upwards of 5,000 cleanups each spring from March 1 through May 31. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful will support this initiative once the threat of COVID-19 passes and social distancing restrictions are lifted. For updates visit www.keeppabeautiful.org.