Philadelphia’s Trash Compactors Analysis of Costs and Collections April 2015


Audit Date: May 7, 2015

Audit Categories

  • Investigation
Controller: Alan Butkovitz

Audit Tags

  • Streets

Executive Summary


For Immediate Release
May 7, 2015

Contact: Brian Dries
215-686-8869

Butkovitz Finds Aging Trash Trucks Have Tripled Overtime Costs
City Controller’s study indicates overtime went from $1.2 million
to $3.5 million in two years

Philadelphia’s Trash Compactors – Analysis of Costs & Collections

PHILADELPHIA – City Controller Alan Butkovitz released a study today of the City’s deployment of trash compactors and found that an aging fleet has resulted in an 11 percent reduction in the collection rate, tripling the Streets Department’s overtime costs.

In Fiscal Year 2013, the City’s collection rate was 96 percent compared to the current year’s rate of 85 percent. This is a result of a third of the trash compactors being 10 and 20 years old and the vehicles that were removed from service have not been replaced. During this same two-year period, the overtime costs related to trash collection have increased from $1.2 million to $3.5 million.

The City needs 324 compactor vehicles daily to meet budgetary and operation goals. However, it has been operating at times with only 240.

“There is a significant shortage of trash vehicle compactors due to the age and condition of the Streets Department’s fleet,” said Butkovitz. “The men and woman who make sure that our streets are clean every day need the necessary resources to effectively do their job.”

According to Controller Butkovitz, about 80,000 households on any given week have not had their trash picked up on time or on regular scheduled pick-up day over the last two years.

The City recently has recognized the need for additional funding to upgrade its fleet of trash compactors by including $7 million in the capital program for the FY2016 Budget to replace the trash compactors. This will include replacing 40 trucks starting in July.

“The Streets Department’s management should be recognized for making sure that all of the trash is eventually collected even with having fewer resources over the years,” said Butkovitz. “When there have been delays, the Streets Department has contacted residents to provide an updated collection schedule.”

“With trash compactors expected to last eight years, the City will need to ensure that it will dedicate ongoing funding for the future to avoid realizing a similar problem,” said Butkovitz. “Statistics show that when the Department has the appropriate resources it is able to meet its goal of at least 96 percent.”

Other cities have implemented aggressive efforts to reduce the strain on vehicles while continuing to collect trash on-time. Baltimore implemented a program that moved the city from a six-day operation to a four-day, ten-hour work week. It reduced the number of vehicles and allowed employees to work in other areas such as cleaning alleys and streets.

“Streets Department employees are already working with fewer resources and being mandated to work more hours every week,” said Butkovitz. “It is imperative that Philadelphia invest in an ongoing action plan to reduce its aging fleet before additional resources are strained.”

###