Study examines impact of waste legislation

Especially for The T&D

COLUMBIA – Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful and PalmettoPride announce a comprehensive joint study of the effectiveness of state laws and enforcement practices and procedures.

The cross-country study is the first of its kind in the country and can serve as a benchmark to measure waste control enforcement efforts across the country.

The two states worked with Carson Consulting to review existing state waste laws and interview key stakeholders to assess the strength of current state waste enforcement tools and systems.

Carson Consulting conducted a mixed-methods study examining five years of data from 2016-2020 and interviewing law enforcement officials and judicial officials to gain on-the-ground insights.

A major focus of the research included examining the laws of Pennsylvania and South Carolina regarding penalties and reviewing the attitudes, behaviors, and influences that emerge from comparing case disposition to interviews.

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Four key findings from the study show that enforcement is seen as necessary to stop littering and illegal dumping, but that activity is low; Officers or judges do not advocate large fines; there is a high rate of guilty convictions; and community service requirements are considered effective at sentencing.

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“Enforcing litter laws is critical to changing behaviors that create litter,” said Sarah Lyles, executive director of PalmettoPride, “but those laws must be enforceable from ticketing to decision-making. This study helps support and identify what is most effective from a law enforcement and judicial perspective.”

The Litter Law Studies in each state are part of larger initiatives addressing litter prevention. The goal of Pennsylvania’s Litter Action Plan is to prevent litter by developing and implementing a research-based plan with recommended actions that can be used statewide to change litter behavior over time. PalmettoPride, South Carolina’s anti-litter organization, will release a litter study in 2023.

“Pennsylvania’s 2021 Litter Action Plan called for improvements to the litter law, including but not limited to the following actions: assessing and updating litter and illegal landfill fines, mandating garbage collection, and linking community service to garbage disposal. This investigation, which demonstrates the effectiveness of state 13 waste and illegal waste disposal laws, is the first step in that process,” said Shannon Reiter, President of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.

Littering is not a problem that only occurs in one area, state or county. Population densities, individual attitudes and infrastructure are just a few factors that affect how well we manage the amount of waste produced.

“This study provides insight into a much broader discussion of how we deal with solid waste,” Lyles said. “Globally, we are catching up with a decades-old system.”

Carson Consulting is a global consulting firm specializing in garbage, illegal disposal and waste management issues. dr Carson and the team conduct research on these topics to determine the effectiveness and effectiveness of related programs and provide a unique blend of analytical and operational expertise in addressing waste behavior and identifying innovative solutions. Carson Consulting is working with several other states on similar studies of the litter, giving Reiter and Lyles, both state leaders of Keep America Beautiful, hope for change.

“Systematic change takes time. Understanding the scope of the problem and the effectiveness of the existing tools in the toolbox is crucial. As more states turn their attention to tackling garbage and illegal disposal, we hope that the lessons learned in Pennsylvania can not only add value, but also advance these discussions,” said Reiter.

The study was funded in part by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

PalmettoPride is working towards a zero waste South Carolina. It is a legislative initiative aimed at tackling garbage and beautifying South Carolina by encouraging citizens to take action in their communities through education, enforcement, awareness and collection.