“I guess word got out in the neighborhood, ‘This is a spot to dump your trash, no questions asked,’” Carlin says.

Working with Allegheny CleanWays, Carlin and his group removed 260 tires and about 20 tons of debris, from embossed Mountain Dew and whiskey bottles from the 1960s to old concrete and busted pipes.

Carlin says, “We put a major dent in it and we’re gonna come back and finish it up.”

City officials echo the need to finish the job. Earlier this year, Pittsburgh participated in a Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful study to calculate the cost of cleaning up illegal dumping in nine Pennsylvania cities. Collectively, those cities spend more than $68 million annually on cleanup, education, enforcement and prevention.

“In our work on the seemingly unending problems of litter and illegal dumping, we know that Pittsburgh is uniquely reliant on volunteer efforts to keep our streets, alleys, lots and waterways clean,” says the city’s Environmental Enforcement Coordinator Missy Rosenfeld. “All together these tasks can be such a huge undertaking that we are extremely grateful to have organizations like Allegheny CleanWays getting out there and doing the hard, necessary work that the city can struggle to keep up with.”

People who illegally dump also don’t discriminate between privately owned or publicly owned property.

“When privately owned, getting the owner’s permission to clean the site can be challenging,” says Chris Mitchell, the city’s Anti-Litter Specialist. “Allowing Allegheny CleanWay’s sweeping access to all city-owned properties. instead of seeking permission parcel by parcel, will speed up the cleaning process.”