Littering Facts and Statistics

Metal debris from uncovered truck punching into passenger side

I haven’t done a post on litter for quite awhile. But I received an email from a guy who wanted to report a Litterer in San Jose, CA.

I just Gotta Tell Ya: Who Litters

  • 75% of Americans Admit to Littering within the last 5 years.
  • Most common litter offenders- Men between 18-34 years
  • Smokers
  • People who eat at Fast Food places at least 2x per week
  • Drives more than 50 miles/day
  • People who go out for entertainment at least 1x per week

Where does Litter Come From?

  • Household trash leftover or spillover over from garbage collection
  • Dumpsters used by business
  • Loading docks
  • Construction and demolition sites
  • Trucks with uncovered loads- that we know, it’s all over the freeway (40%)
  • Pedestrians
  • People in Cars.
Why People Litter

  • Lazy
  • Don’t Care
  • Litter begets Litter
  • Ignorance
  • No sense of pride
  • Lack of Consequence for their actions

From American The Beautiful:

Litter is also expensive. Houses for sale in littered neighborhoods usually don’t get the best prices and owners lose money. Fires started by dropped or dumped litter cause millions of dollars of damage every year.

Litter is illegal. Most people are unaware of littering fines. Most localities also have fines for businesses or pedestrians caught littering. Many people are unaware that the person opening a package of gum and dropping the wrapper on the sidewalk is doing an illegal act and, if caught, could face charges. Littering is against the law.

Litter cost communities. Clean communities have a better chance of attracting new business and residents and tourists. Long term less revenue to city, county and state coffers, meaning higher taxes.

Litter hurts people. Every year there are numerous vehicle accidents caused by litter. People in these accidents are injured and sometimes even killed in their attempts to avoid litter in the roadways. Young children fall on litter in playgrounds, get cut and need medical attention.

Litter also harms plants and degrades natural areas. When garbage is dumped, it can kill or stunt plant growth. Few people think about the harm to natural areas from litter.

Litter kills or injures animals. Many small animals crawl into bottles or jars and get stuck and slowly starve to death. Animals get caught in plastic six pack rings, plastic bags, fishing line and a multitude of throwaways. Birds that are stuck, can’t fly away from danger. Sometimes animals caught in six pack rings are strangled as they grow too big for the opening. Animals get cut, infected and die. Every year, millions of birds, fish and animals die from litter.

Litter is a problem that can be controlled. Education is an important tool. People who are aware of the dangers of litter often make more of an effort to always put their trash the correct place. They also spread the word to others they see littering and teach them to dispose of garbage the right way. Community clean ups encourage people to take pride in their community and keep it clean. Quick removal of litter keeps it from growing into an unmanageable dump site. People can make a difference. Litter can be conquered.

Litter carries Germs: Scavengers, such as rats are drawn to lots of litter. Rats are carriers of many types of diseases that make people ill.

Litter is a problem with Farmers and Ranchers; Cattle and other animals can die from ingesting metal and other substances such as ground up glass. Repairs to machinery jammed by trash, tires damaged by broken bottles. means downtime and lost crops.

Litter harms water quality : Careless dumping of hazardous waste seeps into surrounding soil and cause ground water pollution.

Litter is Expensive: The amount of money being spent picking up litter could be used in repairing roads, hiring more fireman and police/

Economic Value of wasted used containers

In 2005, the forgone scrap value of 135 billion wasted beverage bottles and cans exceeded $2.1 billion. This means that had these containers been recycled instead of trashed, they would have been worth over $2.1 billion on the market.

  • The most valuable component of un-recycled beverage containers was the 55 billion discarded used aluminum beverage cans (UBCs), weighing in at about 810,000 tons. The scrap value for UBCs averaged about 75¢ per pound in 2005, and has already broken the $1/lb mark in 2006. Had these 55 billion cans been recycled, they could have generated as much as $1.2 billion in revenue. By comparison, Quebec’s Alouette group recently spent US$1.23 billion to increase the annual capacity of the Sept-Iles aluminum smelter from 245,000 to 550,000 tons.
  • Three billion pounds of #1 PET plastic bottles were also land filled, littered, or incinerated. At an average market value of almost 22¢, this would have fetched $675 million had it been recycled. There is a strong market demand for reclaimed PET, since PET imports by Chinese and Asian buyers continue to grow. Domestic PET re-claimers would also benefit from an increased supply of plastic bottles, because for the last two years, they have been having increasing difficulty meeting their feedstock needs due to constricted supplies and high prices. Were the amount of PET collected in the U.S. to increase dramatically, new business opportunities and jobs could be created for American industry.
  • #2 HDPE bottles–used for natural juices, water and milk jugs, and for detergent and other personal care items—are even more valuable than PET, averaging 31.2¢ per pound in 2005. Fewer of them are purchased and discarded, however, so the total wasted market value was $259 last year.
  • Glass bottles. About 7 million tons of glass bottles are wasted in the U.S. annually.  Scrap prices vary tremendously depending on collection and processing methods, and on proximity to market. Bottle and fiberglass manufacturers value quality, so uncontaminated color-sorted amber or flint  bottles from a deposit state, for example, might command as much as $65 per ton from a processor in the midwest, California, or the Northeast. Green glass is generally less valuable because green bottles are only produced in a couple of locations in North America. Color-sorted glass from dual-stream curbside programs might fetch $25 per ton, while mixed-color glass from dual or single stream programs may only be worth $5 per ton. If the curbside mix is highly contaminated, or if there is no glass plant close by, it may be worth nothing at all–leading to its use as an “alternative daily landfill cover.” With these variations in mind, the value of glass that is currently being wasted nationwide ranges from about $30 to $400 million per year.

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  1. Jackson says:

    littering sucks the devil’s ballsack.

  2. callie says:

    for the owner of this AWESOME! website,
    i hope you dont mind, but i copied and pasted a bunch of AWESOME! facts from your website (and by the way all of the stuff i found was AWESOME!) partly because i needed them for my essay (which is turning out great thanks to your AWESOME! facts) and also i told my teacher about one of these facts and she asked if she could see some of the facts so i said she could so i was gonna print them for her if thats ok with you!

    for the visitors of this AWESOME! website,
    now remember something that people write sometimes and that i always write at the end of my comments:
    this is a great website but as some people said YOU need to make a change! if you don’t want to start because you think its not cool or you wanted cool people to do something first, odds are they wont!! make a difference and be the first to start it!!! who knows, you could become famous! besides if you really did care about the earth and had high self-esteem (so you wouldnt mind what other people think) then you would make a CHANGE!! the key words:

  3. Johnson says:

    If we are the animals that are being killed because of the litter, I’m sure that people will NOT do that again!

  4. Krystal:))))))) says:

    hey im doing a science project with my buddy and this had all the stuff i needed :D

  5. sammi:)))))) says:

    im doing research on littering and i would love it if people would look at this amazing website… really would help people relize what is going on in the world…..some ppl make me sick…i was just in detroit yesterday and it was very gross and i wanted to barf it was very bad… was worse on the highway….so if your new and you look at this make a change in the world try to help as much as you can….it would really make a difference in the world… least i would hope:))))

  6. this is a really good website to go on to and learn more about the scoop of littering who ever agrees with me add me on facebook or chat with me on my email

    thank you and have a nice day!

  7. i love this website this helps people who cares about littering and cares that people want to help also who cares about the animals that died from trash and litter if u agree with me u can send me a message on facebook if u care contact me on facebook at

    thank you

  8. GO green and you will be awsome. Cheese is awsome!!!

  9. john says:

    im doing a projet and this info was helpful <3

  10. Yo says:

    i hate people who litter. i’d like to slap them in the face then throw their litter at them and then crash their car into their house.

  11. Litter tends to be a problem in particular locations – generally places where there are a lot of people – or cars.

    We call these areas litter hotspots, and we try to focus our resources – in terms of street cleansing, education and enforcement – in these ‘hotspot’ areas:

    •town centres
    •routes to schools
    •near shops selling ‘food on the go’
    •play areas and parks where groups gather
    •railway stations
    •car parks
    •shrub beds and grassed areas
    •shopping centres
    •unmaintained ‘gap sites’

  12. litter ruins everyday life, this crisis needs to CUM to an END.
    Litter is unsightly and can be smelly and dirty.

    It costs Falkirk Council somewhere in the region of £3 million a year. And, remember, clean up costs are met through the Council Tax.

    Litter can be dangerous, unhealthy, and it can persist in the environment for a very long time.

    Litter can also trap, suffocate, strangle and poison wildlife.

    If an area is heavily littered, it can lead to the ‘broken window’ effect – more litter, dumping of rubbish, flyposting, graffiti and vandalism.

    It affects local communities and the people who live there. It can also have a detrimental effect on the local economy and on tourism.

    dont u see my POINT

  13. Miller says:

    Litter kills ur life and sometimes others lives


  14. wei chen says:

    i am personally shocked

  15. wei lou says:

    thank you for all these awesome notes, owner of this website. it really helps me to write my petition.

  16. niecy says:

    littering sucks

  17. sara says:

    i think that littering is such a bad habit because animals find it and think it food and eat it and they get sick and die .!!!!!

  18. littering SUCKS :( says:

    omg sick thx for facts but i cant get over the loads of animals and people who die just coz a couple of lazy people cba to put there litter in the bin uhh it makes me sick! :(

  19. People need to learn how to keep their in the CAR !!!!!!

  20. brooke carik says:

    people who litter need to jump off a cliff it is bad for the environment

  21. tristan kirby says:

    nice website helped alot

  22. doneisha says:

    people are fat in lazy

  23. stop littering you’re killing the animals and you’re killing the environment WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE I MEAN COME ON WHY USE A GARBAGE CAN INSTEAD OF THROWING IT ON THE FLOOR!:{

  24. Katelin says:

    i was just wondering where you found this information, i’m writing a paper and need direct sources and i’m discovering it’s hard to come across primary sources that are still relevant.

  25. Fatima says:

    it helped me a bit because i didn t want this website i wrote just that i want 2 statistical facts about littering.

  26. makailyn and emma direction says:

    OMMMMMMMMMMMMGGGGG! this is the devils plan to litter. oh my gooosh! we need to stop that rucus. its so not cool. please respect my thoughts. I love one direction by the way!

  27. MegaMind says:

    littering is dumb for lasy losers

  28. ONEDIRECTION says:



  29. ONEDIRECTION says:


  30. austin caya says:

    i absolutely love the information given in the articles and specs above. it was shocking to me how much the world dosen’t care at all about their enviorment. its rediculous the amount of money we could have saved. just blows my mind away. i hate littering, i’m going to organize community clean ups in my neighborhood. i love the earth its beautiful and should stay that way.

  31. jc pineda says:


  32. Michael says:

    Sir, or Madame who wrote this article, you need to give your sources because I read this and you gave no sources.

  33. Mel Ester says:

    Littering is like being gay, its just wrong.
    Also i have a huge problem with homos

  34. Recently a friend of mine was on the islands of Belize. She said that the worlds garbage is floating up onto their islands because of the ocean currents. Your article made me think of this as their is all types of plastics and bottles. Thanks for an informative article. “Like”

  35. A-BOMB says:

    littering is not part of Gods divine planning so we shoutld all stop while we still have good looking communities and while we still have animals on this earth

  36. Annissa says:

    Littering blows. But seriously people shouldn’t do it because whats going to happen is the world will turn into something like the movie Wall-E. Just Sayinnnn. For real though.

  37. AJNAI says:


  38. jjorden says:

    Poor animals suffering because of peoples laziness:(

  39. keithen says:

    i think people that litter are just stupid and dont care about other people and other people lives

  40. Rick says:

    What are your sources on this article? I’m writing a paper for my class, and i need to know where you got these statistics. Thanks in advance, Rick

  41. naomi123456 says:

    This is very interesting, and it has all the answers I need.

  42. anoynoumus says:

    who made up littering i went on this website because i’m doing public speaking and this website is really good but whoever did start littering i so am going to sue them.

  43. faliah says:

    people who think they can litter are despicable people. I bet they don’t do that at home!! :-|

  44. People who litter need to go to jail and clean up roads and places for the rest of their life.BANG BANG

  45. Juliann says:

    Aw ! Poor animals! This helped a lot, i’m using this information for my Senior Exhibition.

  46. Savannah says:

    I hate when people litter. >:(

  47. Jakeb!!! says:

    Littering is crazy! It should be put to a stop! Its hella crazy! STOP LITTERING!!!!!!!!!

  48. Trevor says:

    hi im trevor….GO GREEN!!!!!!

  49. Trevor says:

    GO GREEN GO GREEN I Hate litter

  50. chelseahateslittertoo says:



  1. [...] First step is easy: being in an environment that encourages education and is open to change. NYC is full of farmers markets and grocery stores that request that you bring your own bags to shop. The streets are sprinkled with sustainability stores and art gurus that make wearable art from discarded soda cans. I’m especially proud that I go to a university that made the Sierra Club’s 2009 list of eco-friendly schools. A final shout out to my friends who were quick to point out exactly why throwing trash onto the streets is a bad idea. [...]

  2. [...] Don’t pollute!” Well, apparently most of us weren’t listening. According to the latest statistics on littering, three out of every four Americans admit that they have littered during the last 5 [...]

  3. [...] In 2005 the value of 135 billion beverage bottles and cans exceeded $2.1 billion dollars. Look at all the money that we could save! You’re probably thinking that $2.1 billion is nothing compared to the amount of debt that our government has collected, but it’s something. [...]

  4. [...] it, but cigarette butts are a common item found in litter.  Green Eco Services presents a lot of facts about littering and different ways you can prevent it.  Check them out!  A study found that 18% of litter ends [...]

  5. [...] get cut, infected and die. Every year, millions of birds, fish and animals die from litter.” Comments (0) Create a free edublog to get your own comment avatar (and [...]

  6. [...] Littering Facts and Statistics | Green Eco ServicesMar 21, 2009 … 75% of Americans Admit to Littering within the last 5 years. Most common litter offenders- Men between 18-34 years. [...]

  7. [...] to write this post and I was very surprised at what I read although I shouldn’t have been. Here is a link to some littering facts and statistics. Litter is expensive. Houses for sale in littered neighborhoods [...]

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