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Dumpster Laws

Philadelphia requires every dumpster user to obtain a license!

Types of Dumpster Licenses

Private Property

All dumpsters placed on Private Property are required to obtain a one-time license from the Department of Licenses and Inspections.  Fees vary depending upon the size and use of the dumpster.  For dumpsters on private property, the following fees shall apply, effective as of July 2014.
On-line Dumpster License Application (


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

Public Right-Of-Way

All dumpsters placed in the public right-of-way are required to obtain an annual, renewable license from the Department of Licenses and Inspections.  The license applicant must also continue to obtain placement approval from the Department of Streets for any dumpster in the public right-of-way.  Fees 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.

To obtain the license application on-line, please visit:


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 of Philadelphia's Business Portal Licensing and Regulations Page


Temporary Construction Dumpsters

Temporary Construction Dumpsters that are placed in the public right-of-way require a special permit. For additional information, contact:
Streets Department
Permit Unit

Dumpster Users Have Other Responsibilities

Dumpster Identification

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.

Medallion Idenfication

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.
Dumpster Medallion Program FAQ's
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.

Litter Free

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)215-685-4275 is the primary enforcer of the dumpster law. 
  • 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, call:


If you require a license application, call:

The Department of Licenses and Inspections

Dumpster Laws

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:
<strong>Department of Licenses & Inspections
License Issuance Unit</strong>
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