The fastest way to spoil the beauty of our State? Litter. In order of the biggest groups of offenders, discarded fast food containers, paper, aluminum, glass, and plastic make up the bulk of these eyesores.
Littering cleanup costs the Iowa Department of Transportation over a million dollars annually. Add in the county roadways and city streets along with other public properties and the cost tips over $17.5 million per year. Additionally, it is estimated that the cost to the private sector for cleaning up private areas, stores and/or facility parking lots amounts to at least that amount so that the total cost to Iowan’s is well over $35 Million per year. This is a significant waste of dollars for an issue that should be easy to stop.
In addition to being a blight on the landscape, litter can be a safety hazard for roadway travel, can have a negative impact on wildlife and in the case of tobacco can cause fires along the roadside that may spread into adjacent areas and buildings.
In 1979, Governor Robert D. Ray implemented the bottle bill to curb aluminum can and glass beverage container litter by placing a redemption value on each can and bottle. Surveys suggest this legislation was helpful, and the bill has impacted the number of returnable deposit containers from becoming litter. Other forms of litter are still a nuisance including water bottles various plastics, food wrappers and tobacco.
Approximately every 10 years, Keep Iowa Beautiful (with support from the Iowa DNR and the Iowa DOT) conducts detailed surveys of litter levels along our roadways to determine the volume and type of litter.
To give Iowans an opportunity to help, in 2008, Keep Iowa Beautiful in conjunction with the Iowa State Patrol, launched the No Litter Hotline. It empowers Iowans to take action by reporting litter thrown from vehicles. By empowering private citizens to report incidences, guilty offenders are contacted by the Iowa State Patrol about their offense.
How No Litter Hotline Works
Private citizens can use the hotline to report litter thrown from a vehicle. By using the license plate information provided on the hotline, the Iowa State Patrol verifies the data to see that it matches the registered vehicle description. If there is a match, a letter is sent to the registered car owner.
While the letter is not a citation or penalty, it is a warning that litter was seen thrown from the vehicle at the time and place as described. For the guilty party, the letter serves to educate the offender about litter prevention.
- Educate others not to litter
- Always dispose of your trash in a proper receptacle
- Recycle beverage containers and other materials when possible
- Carry and use a litter bag in your vehicle
- Pick up litter when you see it
- Never throw anything out your vehicle window
- Report others you see littering
- Cover truck beds when transporting trash or other loose items
The letter is signed by the Executive Director of Keep Iowa Beautiful, the Colonel of the Iowa State Patrol, the President of the Iowa Sheriffs and Deputies Association and the President of the Iowa Police Chiefs
Association. Enclosed with the letter is a small-scale no litter hotline decal with the number that can be placed on your phone or in your vehicle.
Changing Behavior Takes Time
Keep Iowa Beautiful incorporates these anti-litter lesson plans into the organization’s educational efforts for youth to create awareness for the next generations. Additional efforts are in overall awareness and the production of a no litter hotline program with awareness decals for individuals and for larger vehicles and trucks.
Iowa companies like Atlantic Bottling (Coca-Cola) and Doll Distributing (Budweiser) along with some public works entities such as Des Moines Waterworks use these decals on their Iowa delivery trucks and service vehicles. We are hopeful that other companies and organizations will follow suit.
I urge you to familiarize yourself with the No Litter Hotline phone number to help report litter on Iowa roadways. Don’t let litter “hurt” our beautiful State.
Order Your Decal
Make your commitment to a cleaner Iowa! Order your vehicle decal for large vehicles and fleet vehicles.
For more No Litter Hotline information visit KeepIowaBeautiful.com.