Clarion County Residents Speak Out on Area’s Littering Problem
The Pennsylvania Litter Research Study – organized in 2018-2019 with funding from PA DEP (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection); PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation); Keep America Beautiful, and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful – conducted a phone survey collecting 500 residents’ views on litter and littering, while field teams performed on-the-ground litter counts in 180 locations statewide, including state and local roads and urban and rural areas.
The research found that over 96 percent of survey respondents said littering is a problem in Pennsylvania, and the field results indicate an estimated 500 million pieces of litter on Pennsylvania roads.
“Pennsylvania has a littering problem. Trash lines many of our roads and neighborhood streets. Hillsides and streambanks are strewn with tires and other garbage illegally dumped,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.
“This presents health hazards, it contaminates the soil and water, and cleaning it up is costly to the Commonwealth and taxpayers.
These problems aren’t isolated to more urban areas, either. Responses from local residents show our local region has its fair share of litter and dumping issues.
Lori Smith, Robert Anderson, and Mark Allio emphasized that littering is absolutely a problem locally.
“We pick up trash along our road when we walk. Especially see a lot of fast food containers and wrapping, plastic beverages bottles, cans and empty cigarette packs. I can never understand why it is so hard to just keep these items in your vehicle until you get home and throw them in the trash!
“Why should we be cleaning up after other people? Litter would not be a problem if everyone took care of their own trash properly,” Smith stated.
Anderson said that he “walk(s) around Clarion twice a day, you would not believe the amount of garbage that is in the Borough of Clarion. People must think it is okay to throw their cigarette butts out instead walking over and putting it in the proper container, when they are less than a foot from it.”
“(It is) absolutely it is a problem. I personally found garbage, full trash bags thrown onto my property,” Allio added.
Maggie Smith said that the littering in Pennsylvania is embarrassing.
“After being south several times this year, I realized just how bad PA is! It is really embarrassing!” Smith said.
Another local resident questioned why a study was needed.
“Why complete a study when the answer is staring you in the face?” Elaine Allshouse asked.
According to PennLive, details released at the recent 2019 Litter Summit in Harrisburg include counts tallying 259,467,023 individual pieces of litter, comprised of 37.1 percent cigarette butts, 30.4 percent plastics, 12.2 percent papers, 6.4 percent metals, 4.2 percent organics, 3.1 percent tire treads, and 1.1 percent glass.
The cigarette butts, in particular, were a noted modern, as Secretary McDonnel noted they carry all of the chemicals involved in their production, from pesticides and herbicides to arsenic.
“DEP has funded annual community and illegal dump site clean-ups around the state for over two decades. Thanks to these volunteer events, millions of pounds of litter have been removed from our land and water, but trash is accumulating faster than anyone can keep up with,” McDonnell stated in a recent release.
The results of the study paved the way for a new initiative to reduce littering issues in the state.
DEP, PennDOT, and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful plan to release a report presenting conclusions and complete data from the study and open discussion early in the new year. At that time the agencies will use the data to begin the task of strategizing a framework of measures to reduce specific littering behaviors.
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