CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — 90% of people think that litter is a problem in Pennsylvania according to a joint Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Department of Transportation (PennDOT, and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful survey. The DEP described the findings of this survey and others as ‘significant’ and ‘shocking’ due to the amount of litter on roadways and the amount of money cities are spending toward anti-litter programs.
The DEP reports there’s about 502.5 million pieces of litter on Pennsylvania’s roadways, mainly single-use materials like cigarette butts and plastic bottles.
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful surveyed nine cities including Altoona and found they collectively spend about $68.5 million dollars on education, prevention, and enforcement of littering and illegal dumping. They said this was ‘shocking’ and diverts funding from other critical programs.
The DEP and PennDOT are partnered on PA’s first-ever ‘Litter Action Plan’ aimed at changing Pennsylvanian’s behaviors. It focuses on education and outreach, infrastructure, partnerships, and law enforcement.
Both the vehicle code and crimes code of Pennsylvania address littering.
“The unique thing about the vehicle code is the fact that the driver is responsible if they’re caught, but if they can’t identify a driver, the owner of the vehicle is also responsible for anything thrown from the vehicle,” said State College Police Captain Gregory Brauser.
Fines vary based on circumstance.
“They also include the possibility of being forced to do litter cleaning,” said Brauser.
Brauser said just because you don’t see a police car does not mean you’ll get away with littering.
“A lot of times people call in if they see someone littering,” said Brauser.
One way to get involved with roadway cleanup is PennDOT’s ‘Adopt a Highway’ program.
“These are volunteer groups that go out, usually about twice a year, to clean up specific sections of highway,” said Marla Fannin, community relations coordinator for PennDOT Engineering District 2-0.
Across 9 counties, there’s about 320 ‘Adopt a Highway’ partnerships.
“It’s really impactful, very powerful, and really community driven,” said Fannin.
The DEP says changing Pennsylvanian’s behavior will not be easy, but they say by increasing access to trash and recycling options and holding litterers accountable, Pennsylvania will be cleaner and more vibrant.