Litter in Greenville County

Of all the pollutants out there, litter seems to be the most prevalent – and the most preventable.  Ask most people and they’d say “Litter?  Me?  Never!”  Yet our rivers, lakes, and oceans collect more and more trash each day.  Whether intentional or accidental, littering is extremely detrimental to the health of humans, wildlife, and the environment.  One piece of litter here and there may not seem like a big deal, but if everyone held this mentality, our planet soon be overwhelmed with trash.

What is Litter?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines litter as “any manufactured or processed solid waste that enters the environment from any source.”  In short, it is our misplaced trash and waste.  Litter can be anything from cigarettes butts to old tires to apple cores.

Conserving Natural Resources

Many types of litter, like soda cans or bottles, are made from recyclable materials but will not get the opportunity to be recycled and turned into new products because they end up in the environment instead of in the recycling bin.  This means that instead of reusing the natural resources that have already been harvested, like metal for cans or oil for plastic bottles, fresh resources must be harvested instead.  Even if these litters are retrieved during a trash clean-up, they will likely end up in the trash instead of being recycled.

Litter Facts & Figures

By the Numbers

By the Numbers

According to Keep America Beautiful (KAB) and Palmetto Pride

Roadway Litter

  • 51 billion pieces of litter appear on U.S. roadways each year. That’s 6729 items per mile of roadway across the nation.
  • 46% of litter 4+ inches is packing litter, like food and beverage wrappers and containers.
  • 38% of roadway litter is tobacco products. 22% is paper, and 19% is plastic.
  • 52% of roadway litter is from individual actions by motorists. 8% is from pedestrians, 16.4% is from improperly covered trucks and cargo loads, and the remaining 8.8% comes from other behaviors.

Economic Impact

  • $11.5 billion goes into litter clean-up costs each year, with businesses paying $9.1 billion of this. The other $2.4 billion is paid by local and state governments, schools, and other organizations.
  • Property values decrease by 7% with the presence of litter in a community.


  • 81% of littering occurs with notable intent.
  • Individuals ages 30 and under are more likely to litter than those who are older.
How Long Does it Last?
Don't Feed Wildlife!
Food Waste


How Can I Help?

Most importantly, never, ever litter.  Carry your trash with you in a bag or your pocket until you reach the nearest trash can.  In safe conditions, pick up litter you see on the ground, even if it isn’t yours.  With luck, others will see your responsible act and imitate it when they encounter litter. 

You can also discuss litter with your children, friends, and neighbors to encourage good behaviors in your peers.  You can participate in or organize your own litter clean-up.  If you drive a truck, be sure to cover the truck bed with a cover or net if there is any loose debris inside.

Visit Greenville County's Litter Ends Here program page for information on clean up supplies and our Litter Tracker App.