CLEVELAND — Some Cleveland leaders and local environmental experts are calling for better litter consumer education and enforcement as way to curb the growing problem.
Community activist Robert Carillio pointed to the $40 million tax dollars spent by ODOT for state litter clean-up over the past 10 years.
ODOT clean-up crews in northeast Ohio in April admitted more than 3.8 million bags of trash have been collected from state highways since 2009.
“People are just pitching it out carelessly,” Carillio said.
“We’re just basically focusing on clean-ups, which seems to become more of an enabler that anything, both city and statewide.”
“Locally, I don’t see city, state, county coordinating well enough to abate this problem or put a dent in it from the perspective of prevention, outreach and education.”
Carillio believes much of the trash is coming from convenience store customers, who simply discard their snack, alcohol, and tobacco wrappers onto the roadside.
Carillio said comprehensive litter awareness, education and signage in the schools, stores and in the media are critical.
“Clean-ups aren’t enough, we need to be doing more outreach and education,” Carillio said.
“Because we’re all part of the cycle, you can’t say well the convenience store threw it down, no they didn’t, but they’re part of the cycle that creates this problem, so everybody needs to do their part.”
Cleveland Councilman Kevin Conwell said litter is a huge issue in his Glenville neighborhood.
Conwell said better litter enforcement is also needed to help solve the problem and he that he went to the Cleveland Law Director to see if he could tie-in litter compliance and the approval of a stores liquor license renewal.
"The city, the businesses and the consumers, all three of us need to work hand-in-hand," Conwell said.
“I asked the Law Director if we could do a cooperative agreement with owners of businesses that receive liquor licenses. The cooperative agreement would state that you must clean in front of your business three times a day.”
"This is important because if there’s trash and debris around a store, there’s a higher probability of robbery."
"When there’s trash and debris on the street, there is a higher probability of crime, because it looks like you don’t really care.”
Meanwhile, Carillio believes if litter education isn't improved statewide, the trash problem will continue to grow.
“We're always shouting-out defend the land, well let’s defend the land from this horrible litter and garbage issue that we have,” Carillio said.