Civic News
Municipal government / Partnerships

City of Philadelphia is partnering with this tech-enabled collection service to reduce waste

The Office of Innovation and Technology announced the first winner of its Pitch & Pilot program, which aims to get private and public sectors working together.

Take it out. (Photo by Pexels user, used via a Creative Commons license)

The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology launched the Pitch & Pilot program last year in an effort to get the private and public sectors working together on issues the city faces.

The program is part of a larger plan to use tech to support the economic, social and environmental goals of the City, including the SmartCityPHL Roadmap and IT Strategic Plan. The first issues Pitch & Pilot aimed to tackle were trash and waste, and applicants could submit a tech product or solution for consideration to be piloted by the City. The chosen solution would receive up to $34,000 in funding, community engagement and evaluation support, as well as access to City resources while testing the idea.

About six months after announcing the program, the office announced in late May that it had chosen Retrievr, an on-demand service offering doorstep collection for clothing and electronics, as its first partner. These collected items make up about 10% of Philadelphia’s waste stream which ends up piling up in landfills, the City said.

The City said in a statement that more than two dozen companies applied to the initial challenge of reducing waste and increasing waste diversion away from landfills.

Residents can begin scheduling pickups of clothing and small electronics for free immediately, and pickups began this week. While Retrievr — which runs a processing center out of Souderton and already picks up waste in surrounding cities and counties — charges a small fee for large electronics like TVs, microwaves and air conditioners, residents can recycle these items for free at sanitation convenience centers.

“Retrievr’s proposal helps directly reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill, helping the City save money and keeping dangerous chemicals out of the ground and air,” OIT said in a statement. “Accessibility and technical capacity also played key roles in this decision — Retrievr’s service covers the entire city and can be booked over the phone, online, or via text.”

Residents can schedule a clothing and small electronics pickup by going to going to, by calling or texting “PICKUP” to (757-703-3824).

Pitch & Pilot’s second round asked companies to propose solutions to get more residents using tap water. Applications closed in February.

Companies: City of Philadelphia / Office of Innovation and Technology

Before you go...

Please consider supporting to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

Our services Preferred partners The journalism fund

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


Philly startup Burro aims to revolutionize farming with robots

How to encourage more healthcare entrepreneurship (and why that matters)

Wagtail’s Philly event reaches beyond its software, aiming to bring together Python enthusiasts

Find out what type of heat wave you’re really in for with NOAA’s HeatRisk dashboard

Technically Media