Litter is waste products that have been improperly disposed, without consent, or in an inappropriate location. Litter can also be used as a verb, to litter is to leave items, often made by man, such as aluminum cans and paper cups, food wrappers and cardboard boxes, on the ground and let them remain there indefinitely, or for other people to dispose them off.
Sometimes, hazardous and large items of rubbish, including tires, electronic appliances, batteries, and large industrial containers, are disposed in isolated areas, such as national forests or other public lands.
Litter is an environmental problem that has a significant human impact. Litter can remain in the environment for a long time before it is decomposed and transported to the oceans. Litter can impact the quality of your life.
With 4.5 trillion cigarettes being thrown away each year, cigar butts are the most polluting item in the world. There are many estimates of the time it takes for cigarettes butts to be completely degraded. They can take anywhere from five to 400 years.
Table of Contents
While littering is intentional, nearly half of the litter found on U.S. roads today is accidental or unintentional litter. This includes trash that has fallen off garbage collection vehicles, pickup trucks, and recycling collection vehicles. Higher litter rates are associated with factors such as population density, traffic density, and the proximity of waste disposal sites.
It is possible to illegally dump hazardous waste due to the high costs associated with dropping material at designated locations. Some of these sites charge a fee for hazardous material deposit. Access to facilities nearby that can accept hazardous waste could discourage their use. Inadequate knowledge of laws regarding hazardous waste disposal can lead to improper disposal.
A study done by VROM in the Netherlands found that 80% of people believe that everyone leaves litter on the streets. The litter that is left behind by people between the ages of 12 and 24 years old is more than that of an average person (Dutch, Belgian). Only 18% of litter-makers are older than 50. A 2010 survey in the United States found litterers over 55 in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont at a rate of less than 5%. According to the same observational study, 78% of litterers were male.
Littering behavior can be caused by negligent or lenient law enforcement. Other factors include economic, entitlement, and inconvenience. According to a survey, Pennsylvania had the highest number of illegal dumps. This report also mentions the inability to collect curbside trash or recycle, a lack of enforcement and habits as possible causes. More littering is encouraged by the presence of litter.
The two-stage model of littering behavior describes the various ways people litter. James Liu, Chris Sibley, and James Liu proposed the model. It distinguishes between active and passive littering.
This theory can be used to understand the best litter reduction strategies that will reduce littering in an environment. According to the theory, passive littering is more resistant to change than active littering. This is due to two psychological processes. 1. Diffusion of responsibility increases with the latency between the time an individual places litter and the time they vacate it. 2. Forgetting, which can also occur at longer intervals between the litter being placed and the time they leave the territory.
Litter can be visible for long periods before it biodegrades. Some items made from condensed glass, plastic, or styrofoam may remain in the environment for more than a million years.
Around 18% of litter ends up in streams, rivers and waterways, most often through stormwater systems. Litter that is not collected can accumulate and flow into local streams, bays and estuaries. Litter in the ocean can either be washed up on beaches, or collected in ocean gyres like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Around 80 percent of marine debris is from land-based sources.
While some litter can be recycled, degraded litter cannot. It eventually becomes sludge, which is often toxic. Most litter is disposed of in landfills.
Litter can have many negative effects on the environment and humans.
Tires and other illegally dumped rubbish that contain hazardous materials can leak into water supplies, pollute the soil, and cause health problems.
The most hazardous waste that is disposed of is tires. The United States produced 262 million tires in 2007. There are 38 states that have laws banning whole tires from being placed in landfills. Many of these tires end up illegally being dumped on public land. Tires can be a breeding ground of insect vectors that can transmit diseases to people. In stagnant water, mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus or malaria. Rodents can transmit diseases like Hantavirus by nesting in tires that have been accumulated.
Tires can smolder when they are burned. This can cause hundreds of chemical compounds to pollute the air and lead to respiratory diseases. The residue can also cause soil damage and leach into the groundwater.
Litter can have a significant impact on the eyes.
Open containers, such as cardboard cups, paper food packets and plastic drink bottles, can be filled with rainwater. This creates breeding grounds for mosquitoes. A spark or lightning flash can also start a fire, especially if it hits litter like a cardboard box or paper bag.
Litter can pose a danger to your health. Automobile accidents are becoming more common due to debris falling from vehicles. Accidental injury to people can result from the accidental disposal of dangerous goods, chemicals and tires.
Litter can also be a significant cost to the economy. The cost of cleaning up litter in the US is hundreds of dollars per tonne, which is about ten times the cost of trash disposal. This cost amounts to about $11 billion annually.
Litter can trap or poison animals in their natural habitats. Filters and cigar butts can pose a danger to wildlife. They have been found in the stomachs or other animals, including fish, birds, and whales that mistakenly believe they are food. Animals can also become trapped in rubbish, causing them severe discomfort. The plastic that holds beverage cans together can wrap around the necks of animals and cause them to choke. Broken glass can also cause injury to animals, especially cats and dogs.
Large amounts of organic litter can lead to water pollution and algal blooms. If cigarettes are not disposed of in a clean environment, they could start fires.
Many countries worldwide are concerned about litter. While developing countries may not have the resources necessary to address the problem, western consumers are able to generate more litter per capita because they consume more disposable products.
Numerous credible studies have shown fast food packaging to be one of the most prevalent forms of litter. McDonald’s, however, is the most popular brand of litter, even though it has messages about how to properly dispose of them, such as the Ronald McDonald’s “tidy guy” marking. Keep Britain Tidy 2013 found that Cadbury chocolate wrappers and Walkers crisp packets were the top three most common items of litter on UK streets.
Local authorities provide street bins or public waste containers to dispose of and collect litter. There are more recycling and general waste options. The waste is collected by local councils and taken to the recycling or reuse facility. This approach has its problems. If the bins aren’t emptied regularly, they can overflow and cause litter to be created indirectly. Local authorities may not take responsibility for litter that is left in the bins. Littering can be blamed on a lack or well-placed bins. Many hazardous materials can be improperly disposed of in the containers, which can encourage dumpster diving.
Sometimes, volunteers pick up litter alone, but sometimes they are paired with other organizations to do so. Sometimes, cleanup events are organized where participants will comb a particular area in a straight line to remove litter. Organisations might promote litter cleanup events or have separate media campaigns to discourage littering.
Adopt a Highway is a popular program in North America. This involves companies and organizations committing to clean up roads. Since 1998, Keep America Beautiful has organized litter cleanups known as the Great America Cleanup in more than 20,000 communities across the country.
Since 1970, Earth Day cleanups are held worldwide. For the first nationwide Earth Day CleanUp, Earth Day Network joined forces with Keep America Beautiful (Nature Conserves) and National Cleanup Day (Natural Cleanup Day). More than 500,000 volunteers participated in clean-ups that were held across all 50 states, five US Territories and 5,300 sites.
Commercial properties, such as office, retail and industrial, have litter picking maintenance plans. Property owners can provide this service or contract it to service providers. Property management companies may also be able to do so on behalf of the owner. Simple hand tools are used to pick up litter on foot. The worker will clean up the litter from the streets, parking lots and landscaping. On the job site, all contents are emptied into a trash bin.
Some of the litter collected (flip-flops), is used in Kiwayu, Kenya, to create art that is then sold.
Litter traps are a way to catch litter that has escaped stormwater drains and is entering waterways. Litter traps can only be used to capture large, floating litter items and should be maintained. Recent watershed litter surveys showed that there was a significant difference in street litter composition and stormwater litter.
Monitoring dumping sites
There are increasing efforts to make technology more effective in monitoring areas that are susceptible to dumping. In Japan, a study used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map areas of dumping based on site characteristics.Another study used satellite images to detect possible illegal dumping sites.
Container deposit legislation
Container deposit legislation can help reduce littering as well as encourage picking up via local recycling programs that offer incentives for plastic bottles and aluminium cans. New York’s expanded bottle bill, which included plastic water bottles, increased recycling rates. It also generated 120 million dollars in state revenue from unclaimed deposits.
Container-deposit legislation was introduced in some countries, such as Germany and Netherlands. It applies to plastic bottles and cans. Some parts of Belgium are also looking at adopting such legislation. This type of waste can be used to get money back. This has led to a decrease in litter along roadsides in Germany. The Netherlands has seen a significant drop in litter since the new law was introduced. 95% of plastic bottles can now be recycled. Chris Snick claims that the income from trash picking can be very profitable in countries with container deposit legislation. He was able to pick up 108 cans in one hour and 31 plastic bottles in 30 minutes, earning him 13.90 euros (EUR0.10 per bottle/can). In contrast, countries that only return the aluminum’s value, such as the United States, would only yield 1.72 euros (0.0124 Euro per can). This assumes that there are 15 grams of aluminum per can and that scrap aluminum is valued at 0.8267 €/kg.
Some countries and local authorities have passed legislation to address this problem.
Many groups are formed with the goal of spreading awareness and running campaigns, including clean-up events. World Cleanup Day is an international campaign. Individual scale litter movements include Plogging and TrashTag.
There are many anti-litter campaign organizations in the United States. Keep America Beautiful was established in 1953 and used the term litterbug that its partner, the Ad Council, in 1947. At least 38 states have high profile, government-recognized slogan campaigns, including Don’t Mess with Texas; Let’s Pick It Up New York; Don’t Trash California; Take Pride in Florida; Keep Iowa Beautiful. National CleanUp Day takes place every September 3rd.
Clean Up Australia Day in Australia is supported by major Australian businesses, volunteers, and firms. The 1963 founding of Keep Australia Beautiful, an anti-litter organization, is a good example. It was the creator of the “Do the Right Thing”, and the Tidy Towns competition, which became a well-known expression of civic pride.
Keep Britain Tidy, a British campaign led by the Keep Britain Tidy environment charity and partially funded by the UK government, is called “Keep Britain Tidy”.
People have always disposed of unneeded materials on roadsides and streets throughout human history. Before the reforms in cities that took place in the middle-to-late 19th Century, sanitation was not considered a priority by the government. Disease spread was caused by the growing waste piles.
Anti-littering legislation appears to have been in existence in ancient Greece. This is evident by the discovery of a road sign on Paros with the inscription , which reads “whoever leaves litter on the streets owes 51 Drachmae to anyone who wishes to claim them” .
The 1965 Solid Waste Disposal Act was created to address the increasing amount of waste in the United States. The 1976 amendment to the Solid Waste Disposal Act by the Federal government created the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This requires a “cradle-to-grave” approach to handling potentially hazardous materials. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under RCRA, has the authority to regulate and enforce hazardous waste disposal. Many countries have laws that require household hazardous waste to be deposited in a designated location, rather than being dumped in regular garbage dumps. Paints and solvents, chemicals and light bulbs, fluorescent lighting, spray cans, disposable battery, and yard products like fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides are all household hazardous waste. Also, any medical waste that is generated at home must be properly disposed of.
Related Products And Info: