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​Pennsylvania Litter Research

The Pennsylvania Litter Research Study, 2018-2019

DEP, PennDOT, and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful recently partnered to obtain the first litter data in Pennsylvania in more than two decades. Consultants Burns & McDonnell were hired  to document (a) the quantity, composition, and sources of litter and (b) attitudes toward litter and littering. Using new methodology developed by Keep America Beautiful (KAB), they conducted on-the-ground litter counts in 180 locations and a phone survey of 500 residents statewide.

Key Findings:

  • There are an estimated 502 million pieces of litter on Pennsylvania’s roads.
  • The most common items are cigarette butts (37 percent) and plastics (30 percent), such as food packaging, bottles, and bags.
  • Local roads have an average of about 1,030 litter items per mile.
  • About 83 percent of phone survey respondents said they see educational messaging focused on litter prevention only occasionally or rarely. 
  • About 76 percent said littering reduces property values, negatively affects tourism and business, raises taxes due to clean-up, ends up in waterways, and is an environmental problem. 
  • About half of respondents said people litter because they don’t care or there’s no conveniently placed trash can.

For more findings, see the complete Pennsylvania Litter Research Study Report.

The Cost of Litter and Illegal Dumping in Pennsylvania: A Study of Nine Cities, 2019

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful commissioned Burns & McDonnell in 2019 to survey nine cities on the money they spend to manage litter and illegal dumping. Participating cities included: Allentown, Altoona, Erie, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, and Scranton.

Key Findings

  • The cites collectively spend over $68 million/year on prevention, education, cleanup, and enforcement to address litter and illegal dumping.
  • Eighty percent of these costs go toward cleanup. 

For more findings, see the complete report, The Cost of Litter and Illegal Dumping in Pennsylvania: A Study of Nine Cities Across the State, on the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful website.

Fact Sheets

View of the Litter Summit in a room in 2019

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, in coordination with DEP and PennDOT, hosted the first Pennsylvania Litter Summit in November 2019, in Harrisburg.  Over 120 state and local government, community, and business leaders discussed the impacts of litter and illegal dumping and shared their views on what should be done to end it.