PHILADELPHIA – City officials announced today the updated Litter Index is now live at The 2019 Litter Index Report also released today shows in-depth findings from the 2018 survey of litter conditions across the city.

Key findings from the 2019 Litter Index Report include:

  • 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 data set. 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.”

“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.”

City departments will continue to utilize the Litter Index data to make data-driven decisions on operations and policy. Data compiled through the Litter Index is used to prioritize how the City allocates its resources such as illegal dumping camera placement and enforcement activity, trash can locations, and identifying neighborhoods for the pilot street sweeping program. To see a more detailed list of how the Litter Index is used, click here to read the 2019 Litter Index Report. It must be noted that the Litter Index was completed in 2018 before the launch of the city’s street sweeping pilot in six neighborhoods.

Digital Assets

About the Litter Index
Philadelphia’s City-wide Litter Index is a map-based survey of the litter conditions on city streets, vacant lots, parks and recreation sites, riverways, transit stations, and other public spaces done by City staff. Along with identifying what types of litter they see, 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.

Residents can search their address to see an average litter rating for all of the combined public properties in their immediate neighborhood, as well as a weighted average score for the street and vacant lots of their hundred block.

About the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet
Philadelphia’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet is an interdepartmental effort to continually reduce the waste entering landfills or conventional incinerators, combat litter, and enhance the cleanliness of streets and public spaces. Composed of major City departments and agencies, City Council representatives, community stakeholders, and chaired by the Managing Director’s Office, the Cabinet works across five target areas to make Philadelphia a less littered, zero waste City.