‘It seems like something small but when you see litter, it indicates that no one cares about that spot. It leads to other kinds of decline in a neighborhood,’ said Leigh Harris, executive director of Keep Louisiana Beautiful. ‘It’s that first place that can lead to bigger problems in a community.’ According to a study conducted by Keep Louisiana Beautiful, a nonprofit organization focused on litter in the state, Louisiana is spending $40 million a year to clean up litter.
Through surveys of parish, municipal and U.S. Department of Transportation officials, researchers found that cleanup cost the state an estimated $40 million in 2009.
Leigh Harris, executive director of Keep Louisiana Beautiful, said she thinks this is the first study of its kind in Louisiana. Harris said Keep Louisiana Beautiful was motivated to conduct the study after hearing for a long time that costs were around $15 million a year.
“Everyone throws around this number of $15 million, but no one really knew where it came from,” Harris said. “I knew it was more than that.”
Applied Technology Research of Baton Rouge conducted the study for Keep Louisiana Beautiful.
The researchers asked public officials to provide estimated costs of litter and disposal collection, enforcement, adjudication, and anti-litter public information and education.
Although the study measures only the direct economic impact of litter, it acknowledges that there are indirect consequences like real estate devaluation, loss of new industry and loss of tourism. It also adversely affects the environment and health. As a result, Harris said, the cost of litter is probably far higher than $40 million.
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