The State Highway Patrol and NCDOT are once again teaming up in its annual Spring Litter Sweep campaign. Beginning April 16 through April 30, troopers across the state will be attentively looking for those violators who choose to carelessly throw and scatter litter, as well as, those who fail to properly secure their loads. The overall goal of the campaign is to reduce the amount of litter in our state.
Each day across the U.S. and North Carolina, thousands of cigarette butts, soda cans, coffee cups, beer bottles, plastic bags, and gum wrappers are intentionally thrown out a vehicle’s window. More importantly, unsecured loads result in debris such as lumber, mattresses, limbs and furniture being scattered onto highways. Not only is this an eyesore but it can also be a danger to the motoring public.
The Cost of Litter
- Last year, United States taxpayers spent nearly $11 billion cleaning up litter across the U.S., ten times more than the cost of trash disposal.
- In 2015, the North Carolina Department of Transportation spent more than $15 million to remove approximately 7.5 million pounds of roadside litter.
- The estimated cost of litter pickup is 30 cents per piece of litter.
- One mile of highway contains approximately 16,000 pieces of litter.
- Thousands of accidents across the United States are litter-related, causing insurance rates to rise.
- $90 million worth of cans, bottles and newspapers in a landfill would be valued at $300 million if those items were recycled.
- Litter reduces property values.
- Tourism declines when vistas are spoiled by litter.
- Biggest problem is unsecured loads in the back of trucks. At high speeds, even large items can fly out and hurt or startle other drivers.
- Pickup truck bed covers not only secure loads, they also improve fuel economy and keep loads dry, clean and safe.
- Motorists may dial *HP on a cellular phone to report unsecured loads.
- Tobacco products make up more than one third of existing litter.
- A discarded cigarette butt takes 12 years to break down and leaks cadmium, lead and arsenic into soil and waterways.
- Cigarette butts can poison children or animals who may find and eat them.
- Cigarette butts that accumulate outside of buildings, on parking lots or streets can be washed through storm drains to streams, rivers, and beaches.
- Lit cigarettes thrown from car windows can cause forest fires.
- Heavily littered neighborhoods experience more vandalism and other crimes.
- Litter sends a signal to criminals that residents don’t care about what happens in their neighborhood and makes the area more vulnerable.
- People feel safer in a clean neighborhood vs. a littered one.
- Littered places attract more litter.
- Clean streets and a clean neighborhood send a signal that people care about where they live and work, and indicates they don’t have any tolerance for disobedience or criminal activity. When someone litters, others think it is ok and soon more litter accumulates. Before you know it, you or your community is covered in trash.
- 60% of deliberate littering is done by pedestrians and 40% is done by motorists.
- Plastic bags can last up to 1,000 years in a landfill and a glass bottle can be around for a million years.
What to do
- Never let trash escape from your car. Keep it contained in a bag inside of your vehicle.
- Secure loads and remove any loose trash in a truck’s pickup bed.
- Never throw a cigarette butt on the ground.
- Use cloth bags when shopping.
- Keep your vehicle in working order to prevent break-downs and loss of car parts.
- Check tires regularly to prevent blow-outs.
- Don’t throw apple cores, banana peels or other food parts out the window. Animals are attracted to the scent and can cause accidents when crossing the road.
- Pick up litter in your neighborhood.
How to Report a Litterbug
- Use the Swat-A-Litterbug form on the Dept. of Transportation’s website.
- Call *HP to notify the State Highway Patrol if you see someone littering.