POCONO MOUNTAIN, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The first-ever statewide Litter Action Plan was unveiled to help combat Pennsylvania’s litter problem.
“Every dollar that we spend picking up litter, is a dollar that we don’t get to invest in our system. It’s just really like cleaning up after litter is not a sustainable solution to the problem,” said Alexis Campbell, PennDOT’s Press Secretary.
On Monday, Governor Wolf and state agencies announced a statewide Litter Action Plan targeting more than 500 million pieces of litter found throughout Pennsylvania.
PennDOT says it spends about $14 million every year to clean up litter and that the state’s action plan is now directed at preventing it as a whole.
Chris Barrett, CEO of the Pocono Visitors’ Bureau, said he started the ‘Pick up the Poconos’ litter campaign three years ago because of how much trash is in the area.
“We have 30 million people visiting the Poconos every year. Not only does it have to be pristine and clean for them, but also for our friends and neighbors,” expressed Barrett.
As of September, volunteers have disposed of more than 18,500 bags of litter in Monroe and surrounding counties.
Barrett says besides volunteering, teaching the impacts and consequences of littering is essential to move forward.
“It takes 450 years for that plastic bag to biodegrade, it takes 2 years for a cigarette butt to biodegrade, and a million years for a glass bottle,” explained Barrett.
The Monroe County Waste Authority works with the Visitors’ Bureau and has several other programs combatting illegal dumping.
The police captain tells Eyewitness News they follow reports of trash dumping and can issue fines up to $1,000.
Anyone can help the cause simply by speaking up. If you see someone littering, all you have to do is write down their license plate number and report it to the waste authority.
“People have this concept that ok we’ll throw it on the street it’s somebody else’s job to pick it up. No! It’s your job to make sure it never ends up there, to begin with,” said Jacqueline Bagu, Police Captain, Monroe County Waste Authority.