Litter Grant Program
James K. Polk Building, Suite 400
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243
Currently there are 95,523 miles of roadway in Tennessee. Of this amount, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) controls 13,807 miles of roadway and 3,961 miles of this are classified as scenic.
Litter prevention and pickup efforts are critical to keeping roadways safe and maintaining the natural beauty of Tennessee. TDOT spends approximately $15 million annually on litter prevention and pickup. This figure also includes maintenance contracts that require litter removal before right-of-way mowing.
In 1981, the Soft Drink and Malt Beverage Industries took a comprehensive, proactive approach to prevent their bottles and other trash from becoming litter along Tennessee roadways. As good corporate citizens, the industry lobbied to establish a tax on their products to help fund litter prevention in Tennessee. Since 1983, the tax revenue from TCA § 67-4-402 and TCA § 57-5-201 has funded TDOT Highway Beautification Office’s Litter Grant Program. The law gives TDOT discretion on how to best use the funds to clean up and prevent litter, and matters related to litter, such as recycling or litter in storm water runoff.
Litter Grants are available to all 95 counties. The amount of funding a county receives is determined by a formula based on population and road miles. The Litter Grant Program supports a variety of programs and activities that help reduce litter throughout Tennessee. Through the efforts with collaborative county partners, the Litter Grant Program is responsible for removing an average of 11,300 tons of litter each year. Over the 33 year history of the program (1983 to 2016) this equates to the removal of more than 310,000 tons of litter from our roadways.
FY 2015 Litter Grant Program Results:
Over 400,000 miles of Tennessee roadways cleaned
Over 4,000 illegal roadside dumps removed
Over 22 million pounds of litter collected
7.3 million pounds of litter debris recycled
Click here to view the FY16 Litter Grant Report (PDF)
Partnership with Keep Tennessee Beautiful
Keep Tennessee Beautiful (KTnB) is the cornerstone of TDOT’s litter prevention education and outreach program. KTnB provides expertise in litter prevention education, litter law enforcement, community enhancement through beautification, and volunteer recruitment and management. TDOT spends a significant amount of money each year on litter pick up and prevention activities. In order to reduce those costs, Tennesseans need to understand the negative impacts of litter on their quality of life, the negative effect on the scenic beauty of Tennessee, and the financial costs associated with litter.
In FY 2015, KTnB plans to launch three dynamic new education initiatives:
- Trashercise – This initiative was developed by Aubrey Preston and is intended to simultaneously reduce litter and combat obesity. The goal is to engage citizens in an effort to clean up their community and exercise by utilizing committed and engaged “Leaders against Litter” who will lead by example. A pilot Trashercise program was successfully implemented in Williamson County. Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long reported that approximately 6,000 pounds of litter were removed during a single event.
- Paint the State Green – This initiative is meant to encourage Tennesseans to participate in a Great American Cleanup event in their county/community.
- KTnB Children’s Book – This initiative is modeled on the Legislative Blue Book. It will instill Tennessee-pride in our children by bringing to life the natural and cultural elements of Tennessee. The book will be developed by legendary author and illustrator Guy Gilchrist.
Keep America Beautiful honored TDOT with a National Partnership Award for work with KTnB in FY 2014. In addition, KTnB won an award for their promotion of the Great American Cleanup in Tennessee.
Citizen’s Litter Prevention Hotline
Tennesseans care about preserving the scenic beauty of their community. TCA 54-1-401 through 54-1-406 requires TDOT to establish a system for citizens to report acts of littering from motor vehicles. The law requires that TDOT send the litter offender a letter discouraging littering behavior and informing them of the potential legal consequences of littering. The entire program is anonymous. No records are kept regarding the person who made the report or the person who received the letter.
TDOT maintains a toll-free hotline at 1-877-8-LITTER (877-854-8837).
Citizens may also report littering online at: http://www.tn.gov/tdot/article/litter
The information necessary to report a littering incident includes:
- License plate number (Tennessee plates only)
- Type and make of the vehicle
- Day and time the incident occurred
- Location where the incident occurred
- Type of item tossed or blown from the vehicle
When citizens notify TDOT of a littering incident they observed, TDOT will mail a letter to the registered owner of the vehicle along with a StopLitter™ car trash bag or portable ashtray and other anti-litter information. The letter is a gentle reprimand reminding the recipient that littering is against the law and punishable by a fine.
In calendar year 2014, citizens reported 2,848 incidents of littering.