What is Litter & Who Does It?

Litter is misplaced garbage, trash, or debris, including cigarette butts and lawn clippings. Litter starts with the actions of one person tossing out a cigarette butt or soda bottle, driving with unsecured loads in truck beds, or blowing lawn clippings into the street and down the storm drain.

People generally litter when they don’t feel a sense of ownership of an area, like along roads, in parks, and in abandoned areas. Research has shown that the most likely person to litter, regardless of race, income, and education level is a male between the ages of 18-25. Littered neighborhoods can result in property values being lowered by as much as 15% and often lead to more serious crimes as noted in the Fixing Broken Windows Theory.

In the state of Georgia, littering is a crime and anyone caught littering can be fined as much as $1,000 or more for serious littering violations. Litterers can also be ordered to clean up a littered area in the community.

Do your part by keeping a litter bag in your car and securing your truck loads.

  • FACT: Litter is costly. Last year, more than $16 million was spent statewide on removing litter from Georgia roads. These taxpayer dollars could go towards schools, parks and other services; instead, they are lost every year due to careless actions and attitudes.
  • FACT: Litter is dangerous. Loose debris that is either thrown from a vehicle window or blown out of the back of uncovered trucks can damage cars and causes unsafe driving. In fact, 60 percent of roadside litter comes from unsecured loads in truck beds. If you transport garbage or recyclable items to area convenience centers for disposal, make sure that your bags and containers are secure in your vehicle.
  • FACT: Litter harms nature and natural resources. Litter makes its way into our streams and rivers, threatening animals and plants that live in those habitats. Also, as water sources become more polluted, the more it costs to treat the water we drink. Costs for treating water from Lake Lanier to drinking water standards can range from $43 to $129 per million gallons.
  • FACT: Litter negatively affects neighborhoods. Communities that are littered will soon start to experience other problems, such as graffiti, unkempt rights-of-way and a general decline of the physical appearance in the area. Property values in littered neighborhoods can be lowered by as much as 15 percent.
  • FACT: Litter is just one of several quality of life issues that affects our Community, as shown in the “Fixing Broken Windows Theory.” If minor symptoms of neighborhood neglect are left unattended such as broken windows, graffiti, and litter, the Fixing Broken Windows Theory illustrates how neighborhoods will fall victim to much more serious crimes that can impact property values and lead to a loss of quality of life. Learn More about the Fixing Broken Windows Theory.

Gwinnett County Litter Ordinance

In 2004, Gwinnett County adopted a comprehensive litter prevention and control ordinance, which makes littering illegal and imposes fines ranging from $200 to $1,200 for those caught littering on public or private property.

Gwinnett County Litter Control Ordinance