Sanitation Commercial Dumpster Laws
Philadelphia requires every dumpster user to obtain a license!
Who, How, What, What if
Who is required to obtain a dumpster license?
Anyone who uses a container for refuse or recyclable materials, of any size,
that is serviced by a private hauler.
How do I obtain a dumpster license?
Applications can be obtained from your hauler by calling Licenses and Inspections at 215-686-2491, or by mail as follows:
Department of Licenses & Inspections
License Issuance Unit
MSB - Concourse Level
1401 JFK Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19102
What is considered when reviewing a license application?
For dumpster placement in the public right-of-way, the width of the sidewalk, volume of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and availability of alternative trash handling methods are considered. In instances where a dumpster may impede pedestrian passage or offend nearby residents, users may be required to handle their trash in an alternative manner that does not require a dumpster. Dumpsters will not be approved on the public right-of-way in predominantly residential blocks or retail/commercial strips.
If my application for a license is rejected, how do I appeal?
Anyone rejected for a dumpster license may appeal the decision to the Licenses and Inspections Review Board, Municipal Services Building, Concourse Level, 215-686-2427.
Types of Dumpster Licenses
All dumpsters placed on Private Property are now required to obtain an annual, renewable license from the Department of Licenses and Inspections. Previously, the license requirement was a lifetime license that only applied to dumpsters larger than one cubic yard. To obtain the license application on-line, please visit: www.phila.gov/li
Fees now vary depending upon the size and use of the dumpster. For dumpsters on private property, the following fees shall apply, effective as of January 1, 2010:
Dumpster Size/Dumpster /Use Annual Fee
Right of Way Dumpster Letter (Effective 1/1/2010)
- Less than 1 Cu. Yd. /Trash /$80
- Less than 1 Cu. Yd. /Recycling /$40
- Greater than or equal to 1 Cu. Yd. /Trash /$150
- Greater than or equal to 1 Cu. Yd. /Recycling /$75
All dumpsters placed in the public right-of-way are now required to obtain an annual, renewable license from the Department of Licenses and Inspections. Previously, the license requirement only applied to dumpsters larger than one cubic yard. The license applicant must also continue to obtain placement approval from the Department of Streets for any dumpster in the public right-of-way. To obtain the license application on-line, please visit: www.phila.gov/li
Fees now vary depending upon the size and use of the dumpster. For public right-of-way dumpsters, the following fees shall apply, effective January 1, 2010:
Dumpster Size Dumpster/ Use/ Annual Fee
Right of Way Dumpster Letter (Effective 1/1/2010)
- Less than 1 Cu. Yd. /Trash /$200
- Less than 1 Cu. Yd. /Recycling/ $100
- Greater than or equal to 1 Cu. Yd. /Trash /$500
- Greater than or equal to 1 Cu. Yd. /Recycling /$250
For more information and to obtain a dumpster license application form, go to the City's Business Portal Licensing and Regulations Page by clicking here
Temporary Construction Dumpsters
Temporary Construction Dumpsters that are placed in the public right-of-way require a special permit. For additional information, contact the Streets Department's Permit Unit at 215-686-5500.
Dumpster Users Have Other Responsibilities
Every dumpster should have the hauler's name or company logo, telephone number, and a unique identification number. The user is required to be identified on the dumpster.
The legislation also requires significant changes to technological enforcement. The ordinance provides (Sec. 10-722(3)(c)) that the Department shall issue a ?medallion that uses UHF radio frequency technology, or such other technology approved by the Department by regulation, to electronically transmit: (1) the license number; (2) the name and telephone number of the licensee; (3) the name and telephone number of the provider; (4) the approved location of the dumpster; and (5)such other information as the Department requires. Information describing the new technology planned for implementation should be available mid-summer 2010.
Medallion Attachment Instructions
All dumpsters are required to be emptied at least once a week. If they contain "non-grindable" food waste, they should be emptied every three days. [Additional collection(s) may be required by the City.]
Dumpsters should be kept clean, in good repair, and free of offensive odors. They should be cleaned a minimum of two times a year. (Additional cleaning may be required by the City.) Cleaning dumpsters on the street or sidewalk is not permitted.
Grindable Food Waste
Dumpsters may not be used for the disposal of grindable garbage. All food-handling establishments are required to install garbage disposals for disposal of grindable garbage.
The area surrounding each dumpster should be maintained free of litter, lids should be kept tightly secured when not in use, and dumpsters should not be overflowing with debris.
Dumpsters located on private property should be screened from public view by shrubbery, an opaque fence, a shed or other such device.
Dumpster Law Enforcement
Dumpster users who do not
comply with the Dumpster Code Provisions may be fined and may have their Business Privilege License revoked. Dumpsters placed on the public right-of-way without a license will be presumed to be abandoned and subject to removal.
How do I complain about a dumpster that violates the law?
The Streets Department's Streets & Walkways Education & Enforcement Program (SWEEP) is the primary enforcer of the dumpster law. You may call them at 215-685-4275. Additionally, your Police District's Sanitation Officer can enforce the law. The Department of Health (215-685-7495) will enforce the regulations on violations of food disposal.
Remember – It's the Law!
As the use of dumpsters increased, citizens and businesses expressed a concern to the City about the public hazard and litter created by dumpsters. In response to this situation, City Council passed an ordinance in June 1989, requiring the licensing of dumpsters and regulating their use.
Now, every dumpster user in the City requires approval to use and place a dumpster. Dumpster haulers need to meet a number of performance standards.
If you still have questions regarding the dumpster code, please call the SWEEP Unit at 215-685-4275. If you require a license application, call the Department of Licenses and Inspections at 215-686-2418.