WSDOT Joins Statewide Anti-Litter Campaign

The Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Department of Ecology are joining forces on a new statewide anti-littering campaign entitled “Simple As That” to help prevent littering by changing the behaviors that cause it.

[Above photo by WSDOT]

According to a 2021 study commissioned by the Ecology department, more than 75 percent of state residents choose not to litter while some 26 percent of the remaining 25 percent said they would be motivated to stop if a friend, family member, or passenger asked them to refrain from littering. The agency said its survey found that not having a “car trash bag” as the top reason why they litter.

While those numbers sound promising, but the truth is that more than 18 million pounds of litter accumulate annually on Washington’s roads, parks and recreation areas. Preliminary results from a 2022 statewide litter study show 24,001 litter items per mile on Washington’s urban interstate highways. Plastic food wrappers, snack bags and cigarette butts are some of the most commonly found items.

Both WSDOT and the Ecology department spend more than $9 million annually on trash cleanup efforts – pickup crews and volunteers collected 357 tons of garbage in July alone. Unfortunately, this is only a small fraction of what ends up on the road, the agencies noted.

“Litter adds up when we don’t make simple choices to properly dispose of garbage. It damages our environment, hurts wildlife, and threatens public health, safety and our economy,” said Governor Jay Inslee (D) in a blog post. “Ultimately, our success is determined by people choosing to not litter.”

As a part of the campaign, Washington’s Ecology department is running statewide advertising in English and Spanish and collaborating with Fred Meyer stores to give away free car litter bags to shoppers across the state. In addition, it is distributing a Litter Prevention Toolkit to allied government agencies, jurisdictions and nonprofit organizations to help reach Washington residents.

“Litter is a big problem with simple solutions. Small actions like keeping a litter bag in your car to collect garbage can make a huge difference,” said Amber Smith, the agency’s statewide litter prevention coordinator. “It’s critical for us to stop litter at its source. When you take care of your trash the right way, you help create a litter free Washington and set a good example for others. We need everyone to do their part.”

This effort is also part of the ongoing We Keep Washington Litter Free campaign also conducted in partnership with WSDOT, the Washington State Patrol, and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. The campaign focuses on different littering behaviors through several sub-campaigns, including the significant safety and environmental impacts of unsecured vehicle loads

State departments of transportation across the country are involved in a wide variety of anti-litter efforts.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation joined several fellow state agencies in August to help launch a new anti-litter campaign entitled “PA Fights Dirty: Every Litter Bit Matters.” The creation of this campaign is one of the many recommendations made by Pennsylvania’s first-ever Litter Action Plan, released in December 2021. That plan also won a Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards for Excellence in May.

In July, Ohio launched a new litter control program launched, one administered by the Ohio Department of Transportation, that seeks to broaden engagement by the business community in its trash removal efforts.

That new Ohio program allows businesses and groups to fund litter removal services along one-mile, one-direction segments of state highways. In exchange for their sponsorship, Ohio DOT displays the name of the business or group on a sign within their sponsored segment.

Meanwhile, the Texas Department of Transportation recruited popular singer, songwriter, and actor Joe Jonas to star in a series of Public Service Announcements as part of the agency’s “Don’t Mess with Texas” anti-littering campaign.

The agency said the “show-stopping” performer – a former Westlake, Texas, resident – takes an “over-the-top” approach in the PSAs to remind folks to keep Texas roadways free of litter.

Video: Caltrans Completes Major ‘Clean California’ Project

The California Department of Transportation recently completed the first Clean California funded project in the state in Manila; what the agency calls a “historically underserved” community on the Humboldt County coast.

[Above image via Caltrans]

The $75,000 project created a recreational area along the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge with picnic tables, benches for wildlife viewing, native plant beds, designated parking spots, decorative trash receptacles, a bike rack and an improved view from nearby State Route 255.

The “parklet” created by this project should also discourage illegal dumping and add a sense of community pride to a previously desolate area, Caltrans noted in a statement.

That “parklet” project is part of the multiyear $1.1 billion Clean California initiative formed by Governor Gavin Newsome (D) and spearheaded by Caltrans to remove trash, create thousands of jobs, and engage communities to transform public spaces.

This project is among 126 Clean California beautification projects worth $312 million that seek to transform communities and create connectivity along the state highway system.

Additionally, in March, Gov. Newsom announced 105 Clean California projects statewide provided nearly $300 million in local grants to remove litter and transform public spaces in underserved communities.

Tennessee DOT Promoting Delta Region via New Partnership

The Tennessee Department of Transportation is expanding its traditional role in the Mississippi River Delta Region from building and maintaining roads to include fighting litter, supporting tourism and promoting economic development.

[Above photo by the Tennessee DOT]

The Tennessee Delta Alliance or TDA, a partnership between Tennessee DOT and the University of Memphis, is the agency’s latest investment in West Tennessee and one which will “benefit generations to come,” explained Butch Eley, the agency’s commissioner, in a statement.

Tennessee DOT provided the university with a three-year, $675,904 grant to kickstart the partnership. Organizationally, the alliance will be part of the university’s Center for Regional Economic Enrichment, the agency said.

The plan is for TDA to eventually manage the roadway and promote economic development in the Delta counties, an area that includes downtown Memphis and economically distressed rural communities, according to Michael McClanahan, transportation manager in Tennessee DOT’s highway beautification office.

The alliance also will establish a regional, water-based Keep America Beautiful affiliate along Tennessee’s portion of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway.

“This is really innovative,” McClanahan said. “There are about 200 scenic byways, but this is the first one that will be a Keep America Beautiful affiliate.”

The road along both sides of the Mississippi River is a part of a 3,000-mile route from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico. However, the Federal Highway Administration has only added certain portions of that road to its National Scenic Byways program. In 2021, the FHWA did designate the Tennessee portion of the route as an All-American Road for its historic and cultural intrinsic qualities.

The TDA is just getting started, McClanahan added and is trying to hire an executive director to run the byway organization and appoint advisory council members from the counties along the river.

The TDA will be part of the Mississippi River Parkway Commission, a 10-state organization that works to preserve and enhance the cultural and historic aspects of the parkway areas, addresses environmental issues, coordinates marketing materials, and looks for ways to promote regional tourism through events and links to hiking and pedestrian trails.

This is but one of several Tennessee DOT initiatives aimed at helping clean up state waterways and improve aquatic ecosystems.

For example, in March, the agency teamed up with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful and other partners to establish a network of 17 “Seabin” automated litter and debris removal devices across the Tennessee River watershed.

Seabin devices work continuously to skim and collect marine debris from the surface of the water. Each receptacle can remove up to 3,000 pounds of marine debris annually, while also filtering out gasoline, oils, and “micro-plastics” from the water.

Grants from the Tennessee DOT and the national Keep America Beautiful organization provided the funds supporting this deployment of the Seabin devices.

Additionally, in April 2021, the agency provided the Tennessee Aquarium grants to establish two new exhibits illustrating how microplastics and other roadside trash can negatively affect the health of the ocean as well as rivers, lakes, and streams.

The new exhibits – housed in the Aquarium’s “River Journey” and supporting the Tennessee DOT’s “Nobody Trashes Tennessee” litter reduction campaign – include actual debris taken from the banks of the Tennessee River.

PennDOT Helps Launch New Anti-Littering Effort

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation joined several fellow state agencies to help launch a new anti-litter campaign entitled “PA Fights Dirty: Every Litter Bit Matters.” The creation of this campaign is one of the many recommendations made by Pennsylvania’s first-ever Litter Action Plan, released in December 2021. That plan also won a Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards for Excellence in May.

[Above photo by PennDOT]

“Every Litter Bit Matters” seeks to get state residents to ensure every piece of their trash, regardless of size, is disposed of properly as research shows only 3 percent of Pennsylvanians approve of littering, yet 40 to 50 percent of them admit to littering roadways and other public areas. “Every Litter Bit Matters” also seeks to educate state residents about “situational littering,” such as leaving trash on the ground next to a full can or in a stadium, as well as reminding them that litter of all sizes stacks up and creates problems.

PennDOT noted that a 2019 Litter Research Study found that Pennsylvania has more than 500 million pieces of litter on its roadways, with more than 85 percent of those pieces measuring less than four inches in size. That study also found that litter-related cleanup costs currently total around $350 million each year.

PennDOT Secretary Yasmin Gramian

“As a commonwealth, we recognize we need to change behavior, not just clean up the mess,” noted PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian in a statement. “With our collective efforts and this litter-prevention campaign, we are confident we can reduce litter in Pennsylvania.”

“Litter isn’t just ugly to look at. It can cause environmental contamination and put public health at risk,” added Ramez Ziadeh, acting secretary for Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. “Litter can leach chemicals into our land and water, and act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus.”

The campaign also features a new Young Ambassadors Program – formed as part of a new partnership between PennDOT and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful or KPB – that aims to involve rising 10th- through 12th-grade students to help with the state’s litter clean-up plans.

The students – chosen through a competitive process – will commit to nine months of service in representing and upholding the mission and values of KPB. Other responsibilities include attending a virtual orientation, four virtual education and training workshops, and up to two virtual networking events, organizing and participating in at least one community cleanup event through Pick Up Pennsylvania, conducting one community education event targeting youth in the student’s community and promoting participation on social media.

From September 2022 through May 2023, Young Ambassadors will build community stewardship by inspiring, engaging, and empowering Pennsylvanians to keep their communities clean and develop civic leadership to advocate for clean and beautiful communities across Pennsylvania, PennDOT added.

Pennsylvania’s new anti-litter campaign is one of several similar state-level efforts recently initiatives in different parts of the country.

In July, Ohio launched a new litter control program launched — one administered by the Ohio Department of Transportation – that seeks to broaden engagement by the business community in its trash removal efforts.

That new Ohio program allows businesses and groups to fund litter removal services along one-mile, one-direction segments of state highways. In exchange for their sponsorship, Ohio DOT displays the name of the business or group on a sign within their sponsored segment.

Meanwhile, the Texas Department of Transportation recruited popular singer, songwriter, and actor Joe Jonas to star in a series of Public Service Announcements as part of the agency’s “Don’t Mess with Texas” anti-littering campaign.

The agency said the “show-stopping” performer – a former Westlake, Texas, resident – takes an “over-the-top” approach in the PSAs to remind folks to keep Texas roadways free of litter.

The “Don’t Mess with Texas” litter prevention program – originally started back in 1986 – includes a grassroots partnership with “Keep Texas Beautiful, annual “Trash-Off” community outreach events, and the Adopt-a-Highway volunteer program.

TxDOT Taps Joe Jonas for Anti-Littering Effort

The Texas Department of Transportation has recruited popular singer, songwriter, and actor Joe Jonas to star in a series of Public Service Announcements as part of the agency’s “Don’t Mess with Texas” anti-littering campaign.

[Above photo by TxDOT]

The agency said the “show-stopping” performer – a former Westlake, Texas, resident – takes an “over-the-top” approach in the PSAs to remind folks to keep Texas roadways free of litter.

The “Don’t Mess with Texas” litter prevention program – originally started back in 1986 – includes a grassroots partnership with “Keep Texas Beautiful, annual “Trash-Off” community outreach events, and the Adopt-a-Highway volunteer program.

In June, Joe Jonas – the second of three Jonas brothers – began appearing in television and radio PSAs running on both broadcast networks and digital platforms statewide. The aim of the campaign seeks to encourage Texans – young and old – to dispose of litter properly, in a trashcan, all the time.

“Joe understands the pride that we have in our state and in keeping it clean for everyone to enjoy its beauty, now and in the future,” explained Becky Ozuna, coordinator for the “Don’t mess with Texas” campaign, in a statement.

“We are thrilled to have Joe join us in bringing attention to our litter-free message through his comedic talent and timing,” she said.

Joe Jonas is the latest in a line of Texas celebrities who have lent their support to the campaign, including country-western musicians George Strait and Willie Nelson, plus actors Eva Longoria and Matthew McConaughey.

State departments of transportation across the country are involved in a variety of anti-littering efforts.

In May, Governor Tom Wolf (D) presented a group of employees from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection with Governor’s Awards for Excellence in recognition of their efforts to develop the first-ever Pennsylvania Litter Action Plan, unveiled in December 2021.

In March, the Tennessee Department of Transportation teamed up with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful and other partners to establish a network of 17 “Seabin” automated litter and debris removal devices across the Tennessee River watershed.

Those Seabin devices work continuously to skim and collect marine debris from the surface of the water. Each receptacle can remove up to 3,000 pounds of marine debris annually, while also filtering out gasoline, oils, and “micro-plastics” from the water.

Minnesota DOT Tallies 2021 Litter Clean-Up Efforts

Thousands of Adopt-a-Highway volunteers picked up more than 29,500 bags of trash from highway ditches in 2021, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

[Above photo by the Minnesota DOT]

Across Minnesota, over 1,500 Adopt-a-Highway groups volunteered more than 70,000 hours collectively in 2021, with 830 roadway sections currently available for adoption statewide, the agency said.

“We can’t thank our Adopt-a-Highway volunteers enough for the service they provide our state and would love to have more groups on our team,” noted Ann McLellan, Minnesota DOT’s manager for its statewide “Adopt-a-Highway” efforts, in a statement. The Adopt-a-Highway program has been part of Minnesota DOT’s maintenance operations since 1990, she added.

Minnesota DOT provides safety training, trash bags, and safety vests for Adopt-a-Highway volunteers, with agency maintenance crews picking up the filled bags that volunteers leave along the side of the road.

“Volunteers not only help to keep Minnesota roadsides clean, but their work allows our crews to focus on other tasks that help keep highways safe,” McLellan said. “It is a win-win for all involved.”

State departments of transportation across the country have been ramping up litter removal efforts over the past year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced many to curtail or even suspend highway trash collection and removal efforts.

State DOTs are also deploying new equipment and policies to clean up highway litter.

For example, the Idaho Transportation Department deployed a new machine in March to pick up trash along Interstate 90 from Washington to Coeur d’Alene.

The new contraption requires two operators – one to drive the machine, which uses metal teeth to comb through the grass, and another to haul the trash away in a dump truck.

“To do [clear trash] one mile by hand takes five operators working together for eight hours,” explained Jerry Wilson, an operations engineer with the agency, in a statement. “With this machine, we can cut that down to two people working five hours and still cover the same distance.”

On the policy front, in April 2021, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development implemented a new policy for its field crews to pick up trash in the footprint where they work for the day. Called the ‘Take 10’ campaign, it commits agency work crews to take 10 minutes per day at their job sites to pick up highway litter.

“I try to never ask anyone to do anything that I’m not willing to do myself,” said Shawn Wilson, Ph. D., Louisiana DOTD’s secretary, in a statement at the time. Wilson – who also serves as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 2021-2022 president – noted that his “long-term vision” is to get to a point where this policy is no longer necessary and that “we’re no longer spending millions to help correct a 100 percent preventable problem.”

Meanwhile, Governor Tom Wolf (D) recently presented a group of employees from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection with Governor’s Awards for Excellence in recognition of their efforts to develop the first-ever Pennsylvania Litter Action Plan, unveiled in December 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.

PennDOT Wins Governor’s Award for State Litter Action Plan

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.”

State DOTs Participate in Earth Day Cleanup Efforts

Around the country, state departments of transportation conducted or participated in a variety of pollution mitigation efforts on April 22 in honor of Earth Day.

[Above photo by KTRB]

Some 30 employees with the Tennessee Department of Transportation helped clean up areas around Chickamauga Lake along the Tennessee River.

The event – sponsored by the agency’s Nobody Trashes Tennessee public education campaign and Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTRB) – deployed a 26-foot workboat to clean up shorelines and coves.

“There is a strong correlation between roadside litter and water quality,” noted Denise Baker, Tennessee DOT’s transportation program supervisor, in a statement. “What starts as litter on land, can make its way into our waterways.”

The agency also promoted a number of environmental-friendly resources on its website as part of its Earth Day campaign.

The Tennessee DOT and KTRB also recently teamed up with other partners to establish a network of 17 “Seabin” automated litter and debris removal devices across the Tennessee River watershed.

In addition, in April 2021, the agency helped fund a pair of new exhibits at the Tennessee Aquarium to illustrate how micro-plastics and other roadside trash can negatively affect the health of the ocean as well as rivers, lakes, and streams.

The new exhibits – housed in the Aquarium’s “River Journey” and supporting the Tennessee DOT’s “Nobody Trashes Tennessee” litter reduction campaign – includes actual debris taken from the banks of the Tennessee River: the focus of its current Seabin deployment project.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Transportation redoubled its litter collection efforts on Earth Day.

“Our research shows that accidental littering from unsecured loads and deliberate tossing of trash from vehicles contribute equally to what ends up along highways,” explained Chris Hughes, Ohio DOT District 1 deputy director, in a statement. “It’s especially visible at entrance ramps as vehicles enter the highway,” he said.

So far this year, Ohio DOT has collected 12,035 bags of litter along highways in the northwestern part of the state alone. Statewide, the agency said it spends approximately $4 million each year picking up about 400,000 bags of trash.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) held an Earth Day event underscoring the importance of reducing carbon emissions from the transportation sector to improve air quality, improve health, and quality of life for residents.

In December 2021, Governor Ned Lamont (D) signed an executive order directing Connecticut DOT, DEEP, and all other state agencies to take meaningful actions to reduce carbon emissions. He has also proposed legislation (House Bill 5039) that seeks to adopt stronger emissions standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles, which his administration said accounts for as much as 53 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions, despite being only 6 percent of the on-road vehicle fleet. 

“We know that communities of color and other vulnerable communities have been the most impacted by harmful air pollution caused by transportation,” noted Connecticut DOT Commissioner Joseph Giulietti in a statement.

“[We are] committed to investing in sustainable solutions that protect the environment and keep communities healthy,” he added. “We are doing our part to create a cleaner, more equitable, and resilient transportation system.”

Tennessee DOT Helping Deploy ‘Seabins’ for River Cleanup

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has teamed up with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTRB) and other partners to establish a network of 17 “Seabin” automated litter and debris removal devices across the Tennessee River watershed.

[Above photo by the Seabin Project]

Seabin devices work continuously to skim and collect marine debris from the surface of the water. Each receptacle can remove up to 3,000 pounds of marine debris annually, while also filtering out gasoline, oils, and “micro-plastics” from the water.

Grants from the Tennessee DOT and the national Keep America Beautiful organization provided the funds supporting this deployment of the Seabin devices.

The Tennessee DOT’s contribution includes the purchase and installation of 10 devices at locations throughout Tennessee, as well as funding for two years of water-based cleanups of the river and its tributaries within the state – funding made in conjunction with the agency’s “Nobody Trashes Tennessee” litter prevention campaign.

“[Our] partnership with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful demonstrates the link between roadside litter and debris that ends up in our waterways,” explained Joseph Galbato, Tennessee DOT interim commissioner, in a statement. “Investing in this substantial network of litter removal devices is another example of how TDOT promotes innovative solutions to making our state cleaner and keeping our waterways clear.”

In addition to the 17 Seabins deployed in Tennessee, another two will deploy on the Tennessee River in Alabama, with one other placed on one of the river’s tributaries in North Carolina.

“Until now, all of our work has only been able to prevent micro-plastics in our waterways, so we are thrilled to the Tennessee DOT and Keep America Beautiful for these – as I see it – revolutionary grants and to our partners who will be maintaining the Seabins to make this trailblazing project possible,” added Kathleen Gibi, KTRB’s executive director.

The Tennessee DOT is an agency known for funding different and innovative ways to reduce littering.

For example, in April 2021, the agency helped fund a pair of new exhibits at the Tennessee Aquarium illustrate how micro-plastics and other roadside trash can negatively affect the health of the ocean as well as rivers, lakes, and streams.

The new exhibits – housed in the Aquarium’s “River Journey” and supporting the Tennessee DOT’s “Nobody Trashes Tennessee” litter reduction campaign – include actual debris taken from the banks of the Tennessee River: the focus of its current Seabin deployment project.

PennDOT Gears up for Spring Litter Removal Effort

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection are joining forces to encourage local businesses and residents to support the state’s spring “Pick Up Pennsylvania” campaign, focused on removing litter from state roadways, waterways, and “green spaces” such as state parks.

[Above photo by PennDOT]

That collaborative effort between the two agencies is a key part of Pennsylvania’s first ever “Litter Action Plan,” unveiled by Governor Tom Wolf (D) in November 2021.

“[We are] responsible for maintaining 40,000 miles of roadway, roads that wind through some of the most beautiful, scenic landscapes in the country,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian in a statement, noting that PennDOT spends roughly $14 million annually on litter removal efforts along state roadways.

 “Our Adopt-a-Highway Volunteers are very important to this effort, but as litter mounts, our multi-million-dollar cleanup efforts must continue – again taking our valuable resources away from highway maintenance operations,” she pointed out.

[Editor’s note: The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recently appointed Gramian to a two-year term as chair of its Committee on Environment and Sustainability or CES.]

 “Clean green spaces and waterways factor into our physical and mental health and enable the function of the ecosystem we depend on,” added DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell, pointing out that – so far – there are 290 spring “Pick Up Pennsylvania” cleanup events scheduled, with 21,000 volunteers slated to participate in those trash removal efforts.

PennDOT added that its Adopt-A-Highway program now includes over 4,250 participating groups and more than 103,300 registered volunteers covering nearly 8,800 miles of adopted state-maintained roadways.  

“We see the great impact that volunteers have in reducing the litter polluting our roads, neighborhoods, and parks,” said DEP’s McDonnell. “It’s unimaginable where we’d be without the help of these best of Pennsylvanians. However, cleanup is a very costly approach to the litter problem in the long term. We must move out of reactive mode and be more proactive to prevent littering.”

Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Transportation noted that its crews removed 800 tons of litter and trash from just along Maricopa County freeways in 2021 – a 47 percent increase compared to the litter picked up in 2017.

Each week, the agency said its maintenance crews are able to clean about 250 miles along the freeway system, thanks to funding from the Maricopa Association of Governments. Nevertheless, the amount of litter and trash increases along Valley freeways year after year.

The agency noted in a blog post that trash build-up also clogs drainage systems, leading to water pooling on roadways, while large debris that falls onto roadways can be hazardous as drivers swerve to avoid the items.