The Global Fight Against Litter: Williamsburg, Virginia

James City County in Williamsburg introduced a zero tolerance litter campaign and it seems to be working. The campaign’s message is that litter is a criminal act that can lead to other crimes. When it was introduced back in June, the Zero Tolerance for Litter Policy stated that “special attention” would be given to vehicles hauling unsecured loads, illegal rubbish dumping and improperly discarded cigarettes.

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A behaviour change campaign

At a recent county meeting, it was reported that the amount of litter had decreased. Six volunteers spent a day travelling around the county, taking a survey of the litter that was lying around and they found that there was less litter than in 2016 and 2017. The survey is carried out once a year, and organisers say that the campaign has had a positive effect on people’s behaviour. They say that many people have told them that they pick litter up now, even if it’s not theirs.

Taking steps to curb illegal rubbish dumping

Each survey analyses a 50-miles stretch of road, and it’s given a rating from 1 to 4, 1 being minimal litter and 4 being a lot of litter. The main litter problems were rubbish being thrown from cars and illegal rubbish dumping in remote areas like roads with a dead end.

The county has put an end to a lot of illegal rubbish dumping by chaining off roads into an industrial park that became a dumping hot spot, and placing signs near other dump sites warning people that dumping waste is illegal.

The campaign has increased awareness of litter in communities and this is one of the main reasons why litter levels have reduced.

James City County authorities subsidise litter clean ups which cost around $75,000. Volunteers also help clean up dump sites and litter during their yearly spring clean up.

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