Litter Survey of Chatham County  

Keep Chatham Beautiful (KCB) just completed a diligent Litter Survey of Chatham County.

Volunteers drove throughout the five specified geographic districts of Chatham County to evaluate the amount and type of litter in various agricultural, commercial, educational, industrial, residential and recreational areas.

Police Chief David Lyons and Elaine Barnard supervised the survey in Area 1; Deatre Denion in Area 2; David Nash and Sherry Arnott in Areas 3 and 4;  and  Joe Wilson and Chantel Morton in Area 5. 

The results are very encouraging.  Rating litter on a scale from 1 (no litter) to 4 (extremely littered), the composite score for (Litter, Illegal Signs, Graffiti, Junk Vehicles, and Outside Storage) Chatham County 2012 is 1.27.  Garden Clubs and Adopt-A-Highway groups and municipalities have all had a positive impact on the litter problem in recent years.

David Lyons, Garden City Chief of Police, advised, “I was searching for a litter program in my community and this litter survey came along at just the right time to help assess the problem, help educate the residents, and ultimately reduce litter.”  He said, “Sometimes we just need a little encouragement to change things.”

Lyons envisions that a strong public education program will help address litter behavior (to help make people more aware of littering bad habits, and to make them feel a sense of ownership about their look of their community.

The volunteers surveying for litter used a scoring consideration based upon (1) visibility of the litter, (2) frequency/continuation of the litter, and (3) cleanup difficulty.  Litter comprised of plastics, paper, glass bottles, cardboard, fast-food containers, bags of garbage, and discarded household furniture and appliances.

The volunteers also surveyed for illegal signs, graffiti, junk vehicles, improper outside storage of furniture, appliances, and vehicle parts, etc.

Weakness

 What are the weak points in need of attention in your community regarding:

A.  Accumulation of litter?
Chatham County is a destination for thousands of vacationers every year.  Consequently, the major thoroughfares have a litter problem. 
Also, major routes for residents also have litter problems due to biking, walking, hiking virtually year round. 
And, with many garbage haulers serving the same streets, it creates a redundancy in routing with the potential of garbage spills along residential streets and neighborhoods all the way to the landfill.

B.  Litter/solid waste management ordinances
Chatham County has effective litter/solid waste management ordinances.

C.  Litter/solid waste management technology
Chatham County is in need of updated solid waste collection, recycling equipment, and facilities.

D.  Enforcement of litter laws?
There is inconsistent enforcement of litter laws because no department is directly responsible.  Currently there is no Litter Enforcement Officer specifically hired to enforce litter ordinances in Chatham County.

E.  Existing litter/solid waste education programs?
The County has one part-time Outreach Coordinator with limited funding.  The municipalities and the unincorporated county all have separate programs which has made it more difficult to make area-wide improvements.

Recommendations

To help set some of these objectives answer the question:  What are the community’s greatest needs relating to litter/solid waste?
A.  Accumulation of litter?

  1. Place maximum number of containers at high-traffic vacation routes & destination spots.
  2. Place maximum number of containers at all sporting event sites and leisure sites (fishing, boating, and hiking, walking, and biking trails).

B.  Litter/solid waste management ordinances?
Chatham County has adequate litter/solid waste ordinances.

C.  Litter/solid waste management technology?
Replace (by lease or purchase) needed collection equipment and processing equipment for yard waste, and equipment at the Recycle Drop-Off centers.  The more material recovered, the longer the lifespan of the current landfill. 

D.  Enforcement of litter laws?
Designate a Litter Enforcement Officer specifically to enforce litter ordinances in Chatham County.

E.  Existing litter/solid waste education programs?

  1. Review funding levels for education:  students, adults, and visitors.
  2. Develop a comprehensive, inclusive education program for all Chatham County Residents.
  3. Develop a creative educational program for tourists and visitors to Chatham County.
  4. Deliver the new children’s education program to area schools.

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