What Happens Next?
After a litterer is reported, the license plate number is verified (including a description of the vehicle) through the County Clerk's Office. The owner of the vehicle will receive a letter saying that someone reported seeing litter being thrown from their vehicle, and reminding the owner that littering is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or up to a year in jail. An automobile litter bag also will accompany each letter.
Metro government spends about $1.5 million dollars every year to clean up litter and trash, including:
- Making corrections officials available to supervise inmate crews on cleanup patrols.
- Providing support services for organized neighborhood cleanups including debris and trash bag collection, sidewalk sweeping and walk-behind vacuums.
- Removing illegal signs from right-of-ways including utility poles.
- Providing trash receptacles for downtown pedestrian traffic.
- Contracting to remove litter along highways and interstates.
- Educating the public on how litter impacts our community and changing behavior.
What can I do?
As an individual citizen…
- Make sure your trash is securely placed in the proper receptacle. This means putting cigarette butts in an ashtray, securing paper and other items so that they don’t blow out of your vehicle and properly sealing your garbage containers.
- Recycle materials to save landfill space, energy and natural resources. Most litter is recyclable! For recycling info, click here.
- When you see litter, pick it up and throw it away…don’t just step over it. Set an example, encourage your friends to do the same.
- Carry a litterbag in your vehicle or bicycle.
- Volunteer for community-wide cleanups such as the “Pre-Derby Cleanup” and Ohio River and creek sweeps throughout the year – and get involved in your own neighborhood. Make Louisville Metro a leader as a litter-free community!
As a community group…
- Organize a cleanup and round up volunteers to help pick up litter. You can do this informally or officially Adopt-a-Mile and have your organization listed on signage on the site. Brightside can help you with these programs and provide bags, gloves, brooms and rakes.
As a business…
- Start a recycling/waste reduction program at your company.
- Adopt a Mile along a Metro road or along a state roadway, “Adopt A Highway.”
- Adopt an area around your business and form a “Litter Lunch Crew” to police the area on a weekly basis.
- Educate your employees by placing anti-litter articles in your newsletters or other corporate communications. Encourage your employees to take pride in their workplace by keeping it litter-free.
- Make sure your dumpsters are closed and provide cigarette/litter receptacles at the entrance to your building.
More “Litter” Known Facts
What is litter?
Litter is the most visible sign of pollution. It is anything that is left where it is not meant to be. Litter is unsightly and dangerous. It can cause injury to people and wildlife. It encourages pest animals as well as the spread of germs and disease.
Why do people litter?
People who litter feel no sense of ownership or pride for the community. They believe someone else will remove it or they are too lazy to dispose of the item(s) properly. When a site is already littered, those who litter feel adding to it is “no big deal.”
If you are caught littering in Louisville Metro, what are the consequences?
Littering is a crime (Class A misdemeanor), and you can be fined up to $500, sent to jail for12 months, or both. This applies to littering along highways or streets, in rivers or streams or on any public or private property.
How does litter impact our environment?
Litter may not be the most dramatic of the many problems that threaten the quality of our environment, but it is a problem that affects everyone in our community. Litter creates ugliness in public places including streets, parks and waterways and impacts real estate values. Litter can kill aquatic life and decrease oxygen levels when it decays in water. Most litter can be recycled, which not only protects the environment, it saves our natural resources.
Are cigarette butts really litter?
There is much misinformation about cigarette butt litter…including the myth that cigarette filters are biodegradable. Fact: the acetate filters can take many years to decompose. Wind and rain carry cigarettes into the water supply, where the toxic chemicals the filter was designed to trap leak out into aquatic ecosystems, threatening water quality and marine life. Cigarette butts may seem small, but with several trillion butts littered every year they are the number one source of litter in this county.
How bad is the litter problem in Louisville?
Littering and illegal dumping are a problem in virtually all areas of our community. Last year, more than 850 tons of litter was collected in Louisville Metro, and that’s only from organized clean-ups, street sweeps and similar activities.