Litterbugs' cost to state: $40 million a year

BATON ROUGE -- State and local government agencies in Louisiana spend an estimated $40 million a year cleaning up litter, according to a study conducted for Keep Louisiana Beautiful.

The study surveyed officials throughout the state regarding how much they spend on litter control. The study concludes that governments at the state, parish and municipal levels spent an estimated $39,957,773 removing litter last year.

“This is the first effort we know of in Louisiana to quantify the direct cost of litter removal,” said Leigh Harris, KLB executive director. “The findings show that litter is a very costly problem, yet it’s entirely avoidable.”

The study found, for example, that on average, one third of the cost of roadside mowing is litter pickup before and after crews cut grass. Because they recognize the negative impact that litter can have on a community, government leaders use a range of tactics to keep their areas free of trash.

Lawrence “Buster” McKenzie, president Applied Technology Research of Baton Rouge, which conducted the study for KLB, said the study measures litter’s direct economic impact. Indirect costs, though difficult to quantify, make the full economic impact of litter much higher.

Litter lowers property values and contributes to the loss of new job-producing industry and business. It harms pets and damages wildlife habitats. Litter also affects public safety, ranging from fires caused by discarded cigarettes to research suggesting that heavily littered neighborhoods are more likely to be targeted for crime and vandalism.

KLB encourages everyone to take a stand against litter. Discuss the issue with friends and family members and consider helping with community cleanup efforts.

“We believe the ability to demonstrate how much we pay for litter is an important step in addressing our litter problem,” said KLB Chairwoman Debbie Serra of Lake Charles. “Awareness hopefully will motivate potential litterers to discard waste properly.”

Keep Louisiana Beautiful, the fastest growing state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, is a volunteer organization on the frontlines of litter prevention. Our mission is a vital part of economic development and preventing blight, which often begins with litter accumulation. Since it began in 2003, KLB’S community grants have helped make Louisiana communities cleaner, safer and stronger competitors for business investment. To get involved, visit us online at, or call (225) 752-7446.

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