Average person produces 4.4 pounds of trash daily totaling 2.6 million pounds of trash every day! Unfortunately, much of this trash is not disposed of properly. Litter is not only ugly, it can hinder other maintenance activities, it can be dangerous to highway users and highway crews, it is harmful to our waterways, and it is an expensive problem to address. Money and resources dedicated to this activity can be repurposed to more meaningful work if people throw trash where it belongs, in a trash can or the landfill.
Litter is typically smaller pieces of trash (i.e., paper, plastic, glass, cans, illegal signs, etc.) that are discarded onto our roadways. Anne Arundel County is also challenged with illegal dumping sites (as shown in this image) in which larger, bulkier objects (i.e., tires, appliances, furniture, abandoned home goods, building materials, etc.) discharged on public or private property. Safe and proper removal of these items require significant time, money, equipment and labor resources.
Our Road Operations Districts maintain a regular litter and debris pickup schedule along arterial and heavily traveled collector roads. This is done as a planned roadside maintenance activity since our forces care for more than 6,700 Anne Arundel County maintained roads. In the last five years, our crews have removed 900 thousand pounds of trash and debris from the roadside.
As part of our routine roadside maintenance, County crews resume litter removal activities each spring, and we task our mowing contractors with litter removal so that we collect litter prior to mowing the roadsides. The County’s street sweeping program is also designated to keep debris from reaching the storm drains, creeks, and rivers.
The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) addresses roadside litter on State maintained roads (i.e. MD 2, MD 258, MD 4, etc). As weather and resources allow, the two agencies coordinate litter removal activities by designating litter crews to spend an entire week within one region of the County to fully clean state and county roads in that area.
Our Bureau of Waste Management Services provides curbside collection for a broad range of items to assist residents in removing debris from private and community property. In addition to providing the convenience of curbside collection, Waste Management Services organizes many opportunities to educate the public on the proper disposal of waste (what goes where?) and the negative effects of litter. Waste Management Services hosts approximately 50 presentations to schools and community groups and mails approximately 500,000 outreach items to customers to raise awareness of proper waste management. They also cooperate with Law Enforcement and other State and local agencies to distribute outreach materials, such as the “Secure Your Load” campaign materials that are provided to customers of the Millersville Landfill.
Our Bureau of Watershed Protection & Restoration works with communities to schedule stream and floodplain cleanups. Watershed Protection & Restoration assists with promoting cleanup events to gather more volunteers and obtaining landowner permission for the event. They can even supply material and tools if needed and will coordinate with the Bureau of Highways and Bureau of Waste Management to pick up the trash bags after a cleanup event.
DPW will continue to do what it can with its resources to fight the ubiquitous litter problem that afflicts the County. However, controlling litter at its source is the most effective and cost wise way of combating this issue. Follow these simple actions and you can help us, help you!
- Keep a bag in your car for any trash
- Pick up trash in your yard
- Secure trash and recycling cans with tight lids
- Cover your truck beds
- Participate in community cleanups