Tuesday, 15 January 2019 17:07

Land: Littering remains a problem around Richmond County

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Two beer bottles are among the many scattered alongside Mizpah Road, highlighting the county's littering problem. Two beer bottles are among the many scattered alongside Mizpah Road, highlighting the county's littering problem. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Trash.

It’s been a common topic brought up in meetings of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners in recent years.


The continuing problem with garbage has even prompted County Manager Bryan Land to include how much was picked up each month during his report.

This month was no different.

“Allen Hodges and his staff have had an extremely busy month,” Land told commissioners last week. “We picked up 554 bags, for a total of approximately nine tons.”

Land said 28 roadways were cleaned up by county staff, including the mile-long Watkins Loop Road, north of Ledbetter Lake.

Land said county workers removed three sofas, 10 tires and almost two tons of trash. He later clarified that the sofas were included in the weight, but not the tires. That’s an average of .75 pounds of garbage per foot.

There were an additional 11 tires picked up from other areas of the county.

Land told the RO in an email that while illegal dumping is an issue, “roadside littering continues to be our most noticeable and continuous problem.”

“Trash being thrown out car windows or trash being transported without being properly secured accounts for the large amount of waste collected by the Richmond County Solid Waste Enforcement employees each and every month,” he said.

A drive down Mizpah Road Monday afternoon saw a large number of soda and alcoholic beverage bottles (both glass and plastic), cups, bags and take-out trays from restaurants, empty cigarette packs and other refuse along the ditches and in the woods.

The county stiffened penalties for litter bugs and Land said enforcement has been “somewhat effective.”

“However,” he added, “no matter how much enforcement and education we provide it’s ultimately up to each individual to make a (conscious) decision/effort not to litter.”

Commissioners have suggested getting information to local elementary school students in hopes that they would grow up to have more respect for the county’s environment and aesthetics.

Land said the county has a recycling education program geared towards elementary schools. 

“In the past, we have sent letters to school principals offering the service which they in-turn pass on to their teachers,” he said. “Over the past couple of years we have made around six visits to local schools to present our program to the students.”

He said the program focuses on “the importance of recycling and the positive aspects it has for the environment.”

The Solid Waste Department has also installed four recycling compactors in the past two years to increase the county’s recycling collections capacity by more than 400 percent at each location, he said.

Land also pointed out that the problem is statewide and not specific to Richmond County.

Litter prevention, he added, “needs to be a coordinated effort between citizens, solid waste enforcement, and local law enforcement departments.”

The Adopt-A-Highway program was established in North Carolina in 1988 in response to growing concern about litter-laden roadways across the state, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Groups of residents ― including families, school organizations, churches and businesses ― volunteer to pick up trash along a two-mile stretch of their adopted roads.

Land said there are 27 Adopt-A-Highway representatives in Richmond County.

“First and foremost, people need to take pride in our community,” he said. “Appearance speaks volumes as to how we appreciate or do not appreciate where we live. 

“While there is no cure-all to completely correct this issue,” he added, “we will continue our educational efforts to reach our youth and look for additional ways to curb the amount of litter that is being collected on our roadsides.”