Philadelphia city councilmember calls for revisiting waste management contract

Philadelphia City Council now has a proposal to re-examine the city’s waste management and seek potential changes to the existing contract with the current company in the city of Chester, Pennsylvania.

Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson, the Chair of Philadelphia’s Committee on the Environment, proposed legislation Thursday for the committee to hold hearings in order to determine if changes should be made with the existing trash contract with Covanta Delaware Valley LP.

The legislation Gilmore Richardson introduced requires council to hold hearings about Philadelphia’s waste management program.

The re-ignited conversation surrounding Philadelphia’s trash is in response to an answer candidate Jeff Brown gave about Philadelphia’s trash disposal contract in a moment that went viral during the FOX 29 mayoral debate.

FOX 29 anchor Shiba Russell asked Brown about Philly’s trash pickup and Chester’s environmental concerns, to which Brown replied, "Chester is Chester. I’m worried about Philadelphians and how their lives are. And, so, what will come first to me is what will be best for my Philadelphians."

To which, Russell asked, "So, you don’t care about Chester?"


Brown’s answer drew an immediate rebuke from his competitors and was shared widely on social media.

Covanta bills itself as a waste-to-energy facility and is the largest incinerator in the United States. The Philadelphia Streets Department says it takes about 90,000 tons of city trash yearly. But, Chester residents say the trash incinerator has had a negative impact on their health. Covanta is Chester’s primary polluter, according to Gilmore Richardson.

"Throughout my first term in Council, I’ve pushed for a whole government approach to addressing climate change and environmental justice," said Councilmember Gilmore Richardson. "As the initial term of our contract with Covanta in Chester is ending, it is a good time to revisit and reimagine Philadelphia’s waste management practices. We must work towards reaffirming our City's commitment to our Zero Waste goals in a way that centers the voices most impacted by our decisions."

Watch the full debate here or on FOX 29's YouTube page, here.