Highway Littering Facts

Freeway Trash - hubcapIt costs our region about $3,000,000 and nearly 150,000 labor hours each year to pick up trash along Valley freeways.

ADOT crews picked up 64,568 bags of trash from valley freeways in 2016, or about 250 bags each weekday.

Each bag of trash weighs an average of 10.6 pounds, representing 692,275 pounds of trash.

Litter found on freeways includes cigarette butts, food cartons, styrofoam cups, napkins, plastic utensils, snack-food wrappers, matches, soft drink bottles and cans, paper bags, tissues, plastic sheets, boxes, clothes, newspapers, magazines, metal foil, anti-freeze and motor oil containers, grease, paint thinner, tires, and much, much more.

Litter on Freeways

  • 51.2 billion pieces of litter are left on roadways in the United States equaling 6,729 pieces per mile.

Keep America Beautiful cites four primary sources of roadway litter:

  1. Tobacco products, mostly cigarette butts (38%)
  2. Paper (22%)
  3. Plastic (19%)
  4. Improperly covered truck or cargo loads (16.4%)

Littering is not only unsightly, it can cause environmental and health problems. Cigarette butts, for example, contain toxic chemicals that can end up in storm drains and contaminate our water systems. Trash and other items falling from unsecured loads can cause serious traffic accidents.

Debris on roadways nationwide causes 51,000 accidents each year and injuring nearly 10,000 and killing about 125. Accidents and slowdowns due to road debris also cause delays and increase the time we spend stuck in traffic.

Littering can cost drivers and their passengers a misdemeanor fine of $500 in the state of Arizona.

ADOT has more than 1,500 Adopt a Highway volunteers and sponsors helping litter cleanup efforts statewide.

If you witness someone littering, you can call the litter hotline at 1-877-3LITTER (354-8837)


This document is available as a printable page.

Don’t Trash Arizona Litter Prevention and Education Program Frequently Asked Questions (pdf)

Litter Fact Sheet (pdf)