Sunday, January 22, 2012

Litter Facts

Findings from Keep America Beautiful

  • In the past 40 years, since 1968, the amount of litter in America has decreased by 61% nationwide, a change attributed to aggressive, long-term public education and cleanup programs. Yet litter remains a costly and often underestimated problem for the environment and quality of life.

  • Litter conservatively costs our nation $11.5 billion per year. These are direct costs, including cleanup and prevention programs, and are carried largely by businesses and taxpayers. Not included in this figure are significant indirect costs:
    • Decreased property values. 93% of homeowners, 55% of real estate agents and 90% of property appraisers surveyed stated that a littered neighborhood would decrease their assessment of a home’s value
    • "Opportunity Costs” such as decreased commerce and tourism in blighted areas
    • Health effects and related costs of littered environments

  • The study concludes that at least 51.2 billion pieces of litter are left on roadways in the U.S.; an average of 6,729 pieces of litter per mile.

  • Cigarette butts comprise 38% of all items littered on the highways, streets, parks and playgrounds (in urban, suburban and rural areas of America).

  • People matter. Most littering observed in the study -- 81%-- was committed “with intent” by the individual, and was mainly attributable to lack of individual awareness or sense of obligation. The study showed that 17% of all observed disposals were classified as “improper” or littering.

  • Context matters. 15% of all littering can be attributed to context. The strongest contextual contributor to littering is the prevalence of existing litter. Other contextual variables affecting litter are the number of trash or ash receptacles present, and the distance between receptacles.

  • Age matters. Older individuals (30 and over) littered less than younger individuals, but gender was surprisingly not related to litter rates.
  • Home Electronics Disposal