CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Litter costs Louisiana $40 million annually and taxpayers foot the bill. Over 600 litter citations were issued last year in the state, according to Louisiana's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
And although there's never an excuse for littering, that's especially true in Calcasieu Parish, where residents have options for dumping. Because of it, enforcement is cracking down.
Just walking alongside a road, you can find litter anywhere.
"It's pretty much a problem all over the country and it seems to be a little bit worse here in the South for some reason," said Calcasieu Parish Police Jury's Special Programs Manager, Jason Barnes.
Although litter comes in many forms, Barnes said cigarette butts are the most common. But even food qualifies.
"Well, a lot of people think if I'm done with an apple or I throw it out a bird or an animal can get it so I'm not really littering. But the way I always look at it is, when you have 30 people and they're all out eating apples, all of a sudden they throw it out together, now it's a problem. So, it's interesting what people interpret is litter and not litter," said Barnes.
Besides being an eyesore, litter affects our economy.
"We've actually had car companies wanting to come into the state, relocate, bring upwards of 1,200 jobs to the area. And one particular community in this state actually lost out to another state because of the litter problem in that area," explained Barnes.
But when it comes to bulk litter, residents have options.
There are two solid waste convenience centers in Calcasieu Parish. And according to Barnes, since they were built, they've actually reduced the amount of litter that they see.
"The public is really starting to utilize them more. We've also found illegal dumping and the large piles on the side of the road you see are decreasing," said Barnes.
The two dump sites are working well, according to Barnes. They're open five days a week and accept most things.
But for those who continue to dump, there are hefty penalties.
Those convicted of litter violations face between $175 and $1,000 in fines and up to eight hours in a litter abatement work program. Dumping violations can carry even more penalties and higher fines depending on the severity of the dumpsite and the damage to the environment.
- Simple littering can be trash flying out the back of a pickup truck and carries up to $175 fines and court costs.
- Intentional littering can be someone deliberately throwing trash out of a window onto the roadway and brings up to a $250 fine.
- Gross littering can be someone depositing large amounts of trash into a ditch or having an illegal dumpsite and carries $500 to $1,000 in fines.
- Each offense also carries up to eight hours in a litter abatement work program.
State penalties and enforcement: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/taxonomy/term/391/0
Report litterers: http://www.cppj.net/index.aspx?page=662
Keep Louisiana Beautiful Annual Conference, Sept. 19-20: http://keeplouisianabeautiful.org/
Sept. 21 Beach Sweep: http://www.cityoflakecharles.com/egov/apps/document/center.egov?view=item;id=2545
Solid Waste Convenience Centers:
Public Works - East Public Works - West
East Maintenance Facility West Maintenance Facility
5500 B Swift Plant Road 2915 Post Oak Road
Lake Charles, LA 70615 Sulphur, LA 70663
Hours of Operation: 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. Thursday - Monday
Closed: Tuesday and Wednesday