July 13, 2024
Annapolis, US 74 F

Anti-Litter Campaign Underway Statewide

Bottles. Food wrappers. Plastic bags. Cigarette butts. Cardboard boxes. Litter on Maryland roadways can take many different shapes and forms, but they all waste money and resources, and threaten the health of our environment.

During the past eight years, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has spent $60 million – averaging more than $7 million annually – to clean up 14 million pounds of litter along our state roadways. That money could have been spent to improve pedestrian and bicyclist facilities, augment transit connections or undertake other critical transportation projects to make our roadways safer and more accessible for all users.

“Trash along Maryland roadways is unwanted, unnecessary, unsightly and unlawful,” said MDOT Secretary James F. Ports, Jr. “Litter doesn’t magically appear on our highways. People are responsible. People throw trash out their car windows, and we throw away $7 million a year to clean it up. What an absolute waste.”

This week MDOT is launching an Anti-Litter Campaign to educate Marylanders on the price we all pay for litter, and to urge everyone to put litter and recycling materials in their proper place. MDOT and its agencies – MDOT State Highway Administration, MDOT Maryland Transit Administration, MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration, MDOT Maryland Aviation Administration, MDOT Maryland Port Administration and the Maryland Transportation Authority – are promoting the MDOT Anti-Litter Campaign across their social platforms and will take the campaign to the 2022 Maryland State Fair, August 25-September 11.

At the fair, Team MDOT will share information and hand out reusable trash bags that residents can keep in their cars to hold trash until they get home. MDOT also will unveil its superhero duo – Recycle Ruby and Can It Clay – who remind people to do the right thing and put trash in its place: “Recycle” items when appropriate, and “Can It” when it comes to trash and garbage.

“We need people of all ages to understand the devastating effect litter has on Maryland’s economic development, environment, tourism and quality of life,” said Secretary Ports. “Littering has to stop. Our hope is that by raising awareness through MDOT’s Anti-Litter Campaign, we can reduce the amount of litter on Maryland’s roadways and waterways and reduce the cost of keeping our highways clean.”

Did You Know?

  • Littering is Expensive: Not only does trash pickup cost Marylanders millions of dollars a year, but it also takes MDOT crews from other important work such as mowing, tree trimming and maintenance.
  • Littering Hurts Our Environment: Nearly all litter ends up in the Chesapeake Bay or other waterways. Besides being unsightly, litter blocks storm drains – which can lead to flooding, property damage and traffic disruptions.
  • Littering is Dangerous: The men and women of Team MDOT who pick up trash piece by piece along our roadways face traffic hazards as they perform their work.

A 2020 National Litter Study conducted by the nonprofit Keep America Beautiful estimated there are more than 50 billion pieces of litter along roadways and waterways in the United States, equating to 152 items per U.S. resident. The study found that 90% of Americans agree that litter is a community problem.

MDOT is urging Marylanders to take action to curb litter and is hoping those who attend the Maryland State Fair will stop by MDOT’s booth to pick up a reusable trash bag for their car (while supplies last) and learn more about how they can join Recycle Ruby and Can It Clay in fighting litter. Children can dress up in capes and masks and have their pictures taken with Recycle Ruby and Can It Clay cutouts.

Marylanders also are encouraged to follow @MDOTNews on Twitter and Facebook, and share the hashtag #keepmarylandbeautiful on social media.

Also, check out MDOT’s Anti-Litter Campaign webpage that includes the latest edition of MDOT’s video series, “Ports SupPorts Employees,” where Secretary Ports focuses on the work of MDOT crew members who work to pick up litter on our highways and offers tips on how we all can help lighten their load.

The work of MDOT crews to pick up litter is in addition to work performed by organizations enrolled in the MDOT State Highway Administration’s Adopt-A-Highway program. In that program, members of more than 130 organizations volunteer to help clean many local roadways. For more information about Adopt-A-Highway, click here.

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