Governor Tom Wolf (D) recently presented a group of employees from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with Governor’s Awards for Excellence in recognition of their efforts to develop the first-ever Pennsylvania Litter Action Plan, unveiled in December 2021.
[Above photo by PennDOT]
The Governor’s Awards for Excellence recognize exemplary job performance or service that reflects initiative, leadership, innovation, and increased efficiency. The PennDOT and DEP team was among 50 employees from 12 state agencies honored by Governor Wolf for exceptional accomplishments in 2021.
Through coordination with over 100 stakeholders, the employees from both state agencies spearheaded the development of a plan with the goal to shift the focus of Pennsylvania’s response to litter from cleanup to prevention. The plan includes resources and suggestions for the General Assembly, state agencies, local governments, and the public.
The honorees are Natasha Fackler, former policy director for PennDOT; Emily Watts, former executive policy specialist at PennDOT; Jessica Shirley, former DEP policy director; and Kate Cole, DEP’s current policy director.
“It’s clear that in order to truly see less litter in Pennsylvania, we need to focus on getting people not to litter in the first place,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian, in a statement. “The Litter Action Plan provides real solutions that can be implemented at the state, local, and individual level to help make a cleaner Pennsylvania for all of us. I’m so proud of the work that this team has done to develop this plan.”
“This award is very well deserved and represents the work that this team has done to keep the Keystone State litter free,” added DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “This plan is needed because of the growing – and frankly disgusting – problem of litter polluting our lands and waters. The Litter Action Plan sets us on a path to a cleaner, more beautiful Pennsylvania.”
PennDOT said it spends roughly $14 million each year on litter cleanup statewide, while DEP has funded “Pick Up Pennsylvania” community litter cleanups and illegal dumpsite cleanups for over two decades – supporting volunteers in removing many tons of trash from the land and waters.
The persistence of littering prompted PennDOT and DEP to collaborate with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful to conduct the first comprehensive state study to inform development of the Litter Action Plan, with a focus on changing littering behavior. “It is my privilege to congratulate the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for their vital and mission-based work to develop the state’s first-ever Litter Action Plan,” noted Shannon Reiter, president of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. “The plan’s blueprint for implementing preventive measures and behavior changing strategies to reduce littering in Pennsylvania will benefit and positively impact the health, safety, and beauty of whole communities all across the Commonwealth.”