Community Illegal Dumpsite Cleanup Program

We partner with local organizations to remove illegally dumped trash from the environment and educate local community residents on the negative environmental and economic impacts of illegal dumping in their communities.

Illegal dumping of waste is a pervasive problem in Pennsylvania. These activities not only negatively impact the environment, but they degrade the character of our neighborhoods and the quality of life of our local residents. Dumpsites know no bounds and include state gamelands, state forests, state parks, waterways of all sizes, private property, and county, and municipal lands.

Illegally dumped trash is a detriment to the water quality of local streams and rivers and can reduce drainage of runoff due to blockage of streams, culverts, and drainage basins and can lead to flooding and channel modification. Economically, property values decrease as a result of illegal dumping which affects the local tax base.

Since the inception of PEC’s Illegal Dumpsite Program in 2007 PEC has cleaned up more than 200 illegal dumpsites in 12 counties, removing over 1,100 tons of trash, over 170 tons of scrap metal and nearly 400 tons of tires from the environment. The program includes both volunteer and contractor cleanups, along with education and outreach. More than 3,600 volunteers have put in more than 17,000 hours cleaning up illegal dumpsites.

In addition to the environmental and economic impacts, illegally dumped trash poses a significant human health risk and has negative impacts on water quality as contaminants run off the sites and/or leach into the groundwater. Included  in the contaminants can be hazardous chemicals generated from household, commercial, and industrial sources that negatively impact drinking water and public health, and threaten aquatic habitat.

The potential for further human health impacts come from several sources. Illegally dumped waste attracts rodents and other animals, which can then spread harmful bacteria.  The discarded tires found in illegal dumpsites pose a significant threat as the water collected in the tires provides an attractive breeding ground for mosquitoes, potentially increasing the threat of West Nile Virus.

The PEC Community Illegal Dumpsite Cleanup Program works to combat illegal dumping through a multi-faceted approach. We partner with environmental organizations, schools, businesses local municipalities, and county and state government to remove illegally dumped garbage, trash, and tires from the environment.

The Community Illegal Dumpsite Cleanup Program:

  • Is a coalition of committed partners and has expanded through PEC’s efforts to include local watershed organizations, local land trusts, County Conservation Districts, county and local municipal officials, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural ResourcesPennsylvania American Water Company, and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (KPB).
  • Develops additional partnerships with businesses, government, school districts, local community residents, and other non-profit organizations.
  • Identifies illegal dumpsites through personal communication with local municipal officials, County Conservation Districts, and representatives from other non-profit organizations, as well as through Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Illegal Dumpsite Surveys.
  • Analyzes the conditions of the illegal dumpsites to determine if the sites can be cleaned up through volunteer efforts or require a professional contractor.
  • Educates local community residents and school students about the environmental and economic impacts of illegal dumping on their communities and the options for and benefits of recycling.

PEC Vice President Janet Sweeney discusses the illegal dumpsite program.

Since the inception of this program in 2007 over PEC has cleaned up over 140 illegal dumpsites in 12 counties, removing over 900 tons of trash, over 100 tons of scrap metal and over 300 tons of tires from the environment.

Keep Northeastern Pennsylvania Beautiful

The Northeast office of PEC is now an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful (KAB). “Keep Northeastern Pennsylvania Beautiful” (KNEPA) covers six Northeastern PA counties including Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, and Wyoming. With the guidance of our Advisory Committee, we will implement any of a variety of KAB programs including recycling education, special event recycling, cigarette litter prevention, graffiti removal, litter clean ups, and community beautification and community greening.

The primary focus of KNEPA is to create clean, beautiful public places, reduce waste and increase recycling, generate positive impact on local economies, and inspire our volunteers and the local community to be environmental stewards.

October 25, 2017

Spring Cleaning in Northeastern PA

PEC’s Community Illegal Dumpsite Cleanup Program returned to action this spring, as nearly 200 local volunteers hauled away upwards of 46 tons of waste and debris from sites across northeastern Pennsylvania.


fsc-1Susquehanna County

PEC’s ongoing partnership with the Friends of Starrucca Creek and Southwestern Energy Marcellus Volunteer Council resulted in the cleanup of twenty sites in Susquehanna County.  As a result, 13.4 tons of trash, 2.31 tons of scrap metal, and 1,162 tires were removed by 156 volunteers working a total of 723 hours.

Volunteers came from Friends of Starrucca Creek, Southwestern Energy, NEPA Rail-Trail Council, Susquehanna High School, Endless Mountain Rod & Gun Club local scouting and religious groups, family, friends and neighbors. Participating municipalities included Susquehanna Depot Borough Lenox Township and Gibson Township.


Wayne County

Two more sites in neighboring Wayne County began the summer litter-free, thanks to the efforts of ten volunteers from the Friends of Starrucca Creek who worked 42 hours to collect 1,500 pounds of trash and 77 tires along Starruccca Creek.

A third event planned for Wayne County would have been our first cleanup of the year, if not for inclement weather. The site, located over an embankment off Adams Road in Manchester Township, was under five feet of snow on the originally scheduled date of March 25. Unfortunately, the rescheduled cleanup also had to be scrapped when rain and mud again made the location inaccessible.


delaware-forest-5Pike County

Six sites were cleaned up in Pike County.  On May 10th six DCNR Foresters spent the day cleaning up four of those sites in the Delaware State Forest, then blocking access to motor vehicles.  Two other sites were cleaned up through volunteer efforts with 27 volunteers logging 162 total hours.  Nearly twelve tons of trash were removed and 138 tires recycled.

Partners included The Escape in Greentown and the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Delaware Forest District.



By the Numbers

In all, our partners and volunteers eradicated 28 illegal dumpsites during April and May. Participants donated more than 900 hours of their time to remove a total of:


  • 26.13 tons of trash
  • 2.31 tons of assorted metals
  • 1,377 tires weighing 20.13 tons


As an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and in partnership with Keep PA Beautiful and PennDOT, PEC received various types of in-kind support and services such as work gloves, glad bags, safety vests, banners, bottled water from Niagara, and free landfill space from the Alliance Landfill and Keystone Landfill. Local sponsors also stepped up to provide materials and supplies, including refreshments donated by Pepsi and Middleswarth Chips, buckets from Lowe’s, and towelettes from Dickinson’s.

Donations exceed $3,500.00.



August 15, 2016

Volunteers Help to Remove Over Three Tons of Trash From Delaware River

Funded through the support of PEC’s Community Illegal Dumpsite Program, the Delaware National Park Service (NPS), Kittatinny Canoes, and local partners hosted hundreds of volunteers for the “On and Under the Delaware River Clean-Up” last month.

Kittatiny cleanup photo

Hundreds of volunteers helped to clean over three tons of trash from the Upper and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Held from July 18-19, a combined 204 volunteers and NPS employees teamed up to remove over 3.33 tons of trash and over 86 tires covering a 70-mile stretch of the Upper and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. To date, NPS employees and volunteers have removed more than 450 tons of trash from the Delaware River including 8,881 tires and 8,695 pounds of aluminum cans.

In its 27th year sponsoring the event, Milford-based Kittatinny Canoes (KC) — the oldest and largest canoe livery operator in the country — once again provided breakfast, dinner, canoes, life jackets, transportation, and T-shirts to all the volunteers.

Each morning volunteers signed in and enjoyed a hot breakfast, while safety instructions were given and groups were formed before boarding buses to a designated area where canoes were waiting to be launched. Upon arrival at the boat launches, volunteers put on life jackets before setting out in canoes paddling in eight-to-10 mile sections of the river picking up trash from the islands, shoreline, and the bottom of the river.

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