Cleaning up our state will require the "three Es" -- a united effort to educate people about the problem, enforce litter laws and eradicate litter from our communities.
Education - Learn About Litter
- Litter is misplaced, abandoned, or discarded waste.
- Litter impacts our quality of life, destroying the state's natural beauty, harming or killing wildlife, diminishing water quality and causing increased costs to treat it for public consumption, and is a contributing factor to several motorist deaths a year.
- Cigarette butts are litter.
- The most commonly littered items found during roadside cleanups are fast food wrappers, cigarette butts and aluminum cans.
- Georgia market research has shown that the most likely person to litter, regardless of race, income, and education level is a male between the ages of 18-25.
- Litter is everyone's responsibility. Individuals must accept responsibility for litter prevention.
- Littered recyclable items are a lost resource.
- A clean community welcomes economic growth and development.
Eradication - Clean Up Litter
- The Georgia Department of Transportation annually removes litter from 1,245 interstate miles and 18,000 state route miles. Cities and counties are responsible for litter cleanup along 96,818 miles of local roads or 84% of the total road miles in the state.
- Nearly 400 organizations participated in the April 2006 Great American Cleanup activities, picking up almost 4 million pounds of litter and debris. During this effort, an estimated 270,000 volunteer hours - the equivalent of 130 full-time workers - were devoted to cleaning up litter.
- Local governments and other community partners conducted litter reduction activities in 85% of Georgia's counties in 2006.
- Litterers feel free to litter when they see someone has littered before them . . . like in vacant lots, along rural dirt roads, or at the end of a dead end street.
- Litter prevention is more than cleanup activities. Eight out of 10 Georgians feel someone else will pick up the litter they throw out of a vehicle.
- People litter when they don't feel a sense of ownership of an area . . . like parks, playgrounds, or abandoned lots.
- Adopt-A-Highway, Adopt-A-Road and Adopt-A-School are active programs in many communities. More than 400 organizations are active in Georgia's Adopt-A-Highway program and there are 67 Keep America Beautiful affiliates serving 75% of the state's population.
- In 2006, the Georgia Department of Transportation spent almost $14 million to pick up litter on state highways alone. This does not include local government, nonprofit and corporate cleanup efforts.
Enforcement - Stop Litter
- Littering is a crime. Anyone caught littering in Georgia can be ordered to pay a fine of as much as $1,000 or more for serious littering violations. Convicted litterers can also be ordered to clean up a littered area in a community.
- Littered neighborhoods can result in property values being lowered by as much as 15% and often lead to more serious crimes.
- Georgia's litter laws can be enforced on both public and private property.
- Public perception is "I won't get caught," and if I do, prosecutors and judges don't consider littering a serious crime and will not prosecute or enforce a littering citation.
- Anything leaving a vehicle and falling on the roadside is litter. The driver of the vehicle is guilty of a misdemeanor.
- Successful litter prevention programs are the result of bringing civic organizations, local government officials (including enforcement personnel) and businesses together to identify the issues and implement solutions.
- Municipal, Probate, Magistrate, State, and Superior Courts all have jurisdiction over littering citations.