Anti-Litter and Illegal Dumping FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


What can I do to help keep Pittsburgh litter free?

Volunteer to help clean it up! If you organize a clean-up within the City of Pittsburgh, the Department of Public Works will provide supplies and pick up of all collected refuse. If you’re not able to physically pick up litter yourself, there are ways to help your neighborhood when they organize clean-ups, such as coordination, organization, or providing refreshments to other volunteers.

Studies have shown that having litter on the ground prompts more people to throw litter down than they would in an area with no litter. Regular clean ups to keep areas well-maintained stops future litter from happening.

What is illegal dumping?

Illegal dumping is the improper and criminal act of disposing or abandoning municipal waste including (but not limited to) household waste, construction & demolition waste, tires, furniture, appliances, mattresses, electronic waste, etc. at roadsides, open areas, vacant lots, private property, hillsides, and greenspaces. Illegal dumping is an intentional act done to avoid responsibility of proper waste disposal.

My organization / neighborhood association / school / etc wants to do more; can the City provide a specialist to talk with us?

Yes we do! Please contact and we can arrange for a meeting with our Anti-Litter Specialist, Recycling Specialist, or Environmental Enforcement Coordinator to suit the needs of your community.

How should waste be disposed of properly to avoid illegal dumping?

All bulky waste not currently maintained by Environmental Services must be taken to a contracted transfer station approved by Allegheny County Municipal Solid Waste Management plan. For more information, please see our Bulky Waste Resources Page.

How do I report illegal dumping?

If you SEE illegal dumping happening currently IN THE ACT… CALL 911!

If you FIND illegal dumping AFTER THE FACT… CALL 311!

We can fight against illegal dumping by being told the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE as it happens.

  • WHO – Licence plate number and make and model of vehicle used for dumping materials
  • WHAT – Description of materials dumped
  • WHERE – Location such as street address or parcel ID#
  • WHEN – Time and date of when dumping occurred OR when it was first discovered

(If you see illegal dumping occurring, please do not confront the individual(s) and jeopardize your safety.)

There is a “We Buy Houses” sign on a utility pole, am I allowed to take it down?

Yes! We consider these illegal bandit signs placed on utility poles “litter on a stick,” which can be taken down by anybody. If you are not able to take it down safely yourself, you can report it to 311 for DPW removal.

How can I request a public trash can placement to combat litter in my area?

You can request a trash can placement through our 311 Service Request system. The City has a limited number of trash cans it is able to service at any given time, but it is often willing to move an existing can to somewhere it can be put to better use. When requesting a trash can, please remember that we may not be able to place it at your desired location due to many potential factors such as safety, ability to service, abuse of trash cans place at location in the past, etc.

I would like to volunteer to use skilled labor to install a public amenity (e.g. garden, benches, signs, trail, etc.). How can I do this?

Please contact and describe in detail the type of work you would like to perform. Public amenities require many levels of approvals and considerations and we want to work to find the best way to move forward together.

How does illegal dumping hurt my community?

Illegal dumping is a costly crime of convenience that negatively affects both local residents and all Pittsburgh taxpayers. While properly disposing of the waste material would cost the dumper on average $60 per ton, the amount of effort it takes to clean up a dump site after the fact costs on average $600 per ton! These clean-up efforts takes away from using these funds and resources on other valuable DPW work, like filling potholes, emptying refuse cans, maintaining our parks, etc.

Illegally dumped material is a risk to public health, and pollutes surrounding wildlife, environment, and our iconic waterways. The blight of dumping reduces quality of life and property values for residents, while also futher encouraging additional dumping, littering and other crimes.

What is the penalty for illegal dumping?

Illegal dumping can result in fines of up to $10,000.