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Earth Day is every day for ODOT
Earth Day is every day for ODOT

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - (Friday, April 22, 2022) As the world observes Earth Day today, ODOT crews will continue to do their part for the good of the Earth and collect litter along Ohio’s highways.

Litter has remained a constant problem for Ohio, and especially for ODOT – the agency charged with litter removal along highway right-of-way.

“Our employees risk their lives to pick up litter as they work alongside speeding traffic and, unfortunately, distracted drivers. The need for that wouldn’t exist if everyone did their part and kept trash contained,” said Chris Hughes, ODOT District 1 deputy director.

Litter is the result of a combination of behaviors. “Our research shows that accidental littering from unsecured loads and deliberate tossing of trash from vehicles contribute equally to what ends up along highways,” said Hughes. “It’s especially visible at entrance ramps as vehicles enter the highway,” he said.

So far this year, ODOT in northwest Ohio has administered the collection of 12,035 bags of litter along highways.

ODOT statewide spends approximately $4 million each year picking up about 400,000 bags of trash. That’s time and money better spent on pavement and drainage system repairs that provide long-term improvement to highways.

Additional litter numbers:

  • 81% of Ohioans know littering is illegal, yet on average, 42% of Ohioans have littered in the past month.
  • Beverage is the largest category of litter, representing 18% of all litter.
  • Vehicle debris is the second largest litter category at 16.7%.

With the $4 million ODOT spends each year on litter control efforts, 10 miles of two-lane highway could be resurfaced.“This is one issue we as a society can actually control. The focus needs to be on litter prevention to keep trash from potentially clogging drainage systems leading to roadway flooding, or polluting a waterway,” said Pat McColley, ODOT District 2 deputy director.

ODOT is part of a multi-agency litter prevention effort, directed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, to prevent and combat litter.  Learn how “A Little Litter is a Big Problem,” and how you or your business can help solve it: Litter | Ohio Department of Transportation