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Experts: Northeast Ohio roadside litter issues require greater public education

Experts: N.E. Ohio roadside litter issues require greater public education
Posted at 9:51 PM, Apr 28, 2022

CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohio environmental groups and local activists believe more public education and awareness are needed to help slow down the growing problems with roadside litter and illegal dumping.

Cleveland environmental activist Robert Carillio told News 5 he's seen an increase in roadside litter this year and throughout the pandemic and its aftermath. Carillio believes additional anti-litter messages are needed in the form of public signs, messages online and in the media, and anti-litter education needs to be a more significant part of curriculum in Northeast Ohio schools.

“Litter, it’s just only gotten worse," Carillio said. “The vast majority of it without a doubt is fast food convenient store type of items.”

“When it comes to motorists it seems that their environment is their trash can, the car window is the opening or the receptacle. There's nothing at the front end to prevent it, education in the schools, it could be something as simple as public service announcement from a principal to school kids Meanwhile, it continues to get worse. In the instance of the highways, ODOT continues to have to spend millions every year to hardly make a dent.”

Experts: N.E. Ohio roadside litter issues require greater public education
ODOT has already picked up more than 121,000 bags of roadside trash in the first three months of 2022.

The Ohio Department of Transportation District 12 office told News 5 ODOT is spending $4 million every year on statewide roadside litter clean-up, just trying to keep pace. ODOT reported it picked up 362,522 bags of litter in 2020, 454,819 bags in 2021, and has already collected more than 121,000 bags in the first three months of 2021.

Keep Akron Beautiful Community Outreach Manager Genevieve Bohnak told News 5 her agency has seen a 23% increase in household items and trash being improperly disposed of during the pandemic and its aftermath.

“Ever since the pandemic there just seems there’s been a lack of care for people who live and work in Akron," Bohnak said. "People litter because one, it’s not their property they don’t have to worry about it. Two, someone else will pick it up, and three, there’s already litter there, might as well just throw it there.”

“Maybe if more businesses like convenience stores had additional trash receptacles, a lot of time gas stations have them outside at the pumps and at the store. But having more receptacles, whether that’s indoors or outdoors, definitely helps decrease the amount of litter.”

Bohnak said more people can get involved in upcoming community clean-up efforts through its Clean Up Akron Month. ODOT has also launched its anti-litter campaign and continues its adopt-a-highwayprogram.

”Any individual, group, school, or business can do their own clean-up," Bohnak said. "We give them all the supplies, trash bags, gloves, hand sanitizer, safety vests.”

“We all live on one planet, and it’s our responsibility to take care of the planet that we live on."