National News

Millions spent on litter cleanup; People encourages to report litterbugs

Posted January 10, 2018 5:58 p.m. EST

— Tennessee's roadways are getting trashed, and the price tag to clean it up is a steep one.

Each year, $15 million is spent picking up litter and educating the public.

Laura Turner lives in Williamson County. Each day, she sees garbage piling up along roads near her home.

"It blemishes, it hurts, it harms," Turner said. "We should be enhancing our roads, not trashing them."

Metro workers were picking up trash along Highway 100 on Wednesday. One worker said they easily pick up a trailer-full of trash bags each day.

Shawn Bible, with the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Highway Beautification office, said there are 100 million pieces of litter on Tennessee's roads at any one time. The state recently launched a new campaign called "Nobody Trashes Tennessee" to educate the public.

Littering fines range from $50 to $3,000. The problem is that it's hard to catch people in the act. That is why people are encouraged to report litterbugs.

"Folks don't want to invest in a place that's littered," Bible said. "They don't want to visit and be tourists in an area that's littered. It has a wide range of problems."

Seventy percent of the litter blows off the back of trucks. State law requires a tarp to be placed over any debris being moved. Bible also said people are more likely to litter where there is already trash.

"They litter because they think somebody is going to pick it up," Bible said. "During the winter time we see it more because it's so stark."