HARRISBURG – Sen. Mario Scavello (R-40) and Rep. Rosemary Brown (R-189) held a Capitol news conference today to urge Pennsylvania communities to adopt campaigns to clean up the litter that is so costly to local communities and the environment.
“Pennsylvania is a beautiful, scenic state, but you don’t have to look far to see that we have a littering problem,” said Scavello. “It’s costly for taxpayers and poses a threat to the environment. If we band together through local clean-up campaigns, we can make a difference.”
“Litter is an issue that is strongly affecting the Poconos and the State of Pennsylvania,” said Brown. “We need to use preventive and proactive measures that focus on clean-up campaigns locally and across Pennsylvania.”
There are approximately 502 million pieces of litter on Pennsylvania’s roadways, predominantly single-use materials like cigarette butts and plastic bottles, the lawmakers noted.
A 2020 study commissioned by Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful found that from 2014 through 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spent more $65 million removing litter and debris from within highway rights-of-way across the state.
The study looked at nine Pennsylvania cities (Allentown, Altoona, Erie, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading and Scranton) and found they spend more than $68.5 million annually on prevention, education, abatement and enforcement efforts to address litter and illegal dumping throughout their respective communities.
More than 90% of Pennsylvanians surveyed say that litter is a problem in Pennsylvania and 93% strongly agree or agree that litter reduces property values. In addition, 87% strongly agree or agree that litter negatively impacts tourism and business.
The Pocono Mountains is one of the most popular tourist areas in the commonwealth, and the lawmakers point to the successful “Pick Up the Poconos” program as a model for others to follow.
Pick up the Poconos was the model for the annual Pick Up Pennsylvania initiative by Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, which each spring offers volunteers technical assistance, cleanup supplies and trash disposal. In 2021, 76,399 volunteers collected more than 3.8 million pounds of trash and planted 106,322 trees, flowers and shrubs.
Sen. Scavello and Rep. Brown were joined by Collin Holder of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, Chris Barrett of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau and Jim Lambert of Monroe County Waste Authority.
“We’ve seen the success of Pick Up the Poconos, and we’re asking communities across Pennsylvania to make this a truly statewide campaign to Pick Up Pennsylvania and get rid of this costly blight,” Scavello said.
“We need to continue to build on our efforts to address the litter problem and recruit residents, volunteers, businesses, state agencies and specific programs like ‘Pick up the Poconos’ to be as effective as possible, which is why we are doing this event. We want all these entities to say, ‘What can I do to be on the team?’” Brown said.
Video of the news conference will be posted here.
CONTACTS: (Sen. Scavello) Christine Zubeck email@example.com 717-787-6123
(Rep. Brown) Michelle Swab MSwab@pahousegop.com 717-260-6325