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'We don't just see trash' | Litterbugs are becoming a real problem in Mecklenburg County

With so many people moving to Charlotte, and the pandemic cutting programs, has Mecklenburg County seen more litter on its roadways?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When you're driving on the roadways, do you spot litter? In North Carolina, it could cost you up to $2,000 if you're caught throwing litter on the ground. 

With so many people moving to Charlotte, and the pandemic cutting programs, has Mecklenburg County seen more litter on its roads? 

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THE QUESTION

Did Mecklenburg County see more litter on the roads in 2021 than in previous years? 

THE ANSWER

Yes, Mecklenburg County did see more litter on the roads in 2021 than in previous years. 

   

This is true.

OUR SOURCES 

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

"Unfortunately, the roadsides are treated like a dumping ground," Thompson said. 

NCDOT manages 3,000 miles of roads in Mecklenburg County, according to Thompson. That means a lot of trash. And it's not just empty cans and bottles. 

"We don't just see trash on the roadsides," Thompson said. 'We also see large boxes of furniture."

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Here is the breakdown:

  • 2019: 1.05 million pounds of litter was collected in Mecklenburg County. 
  • 2020: 1.16 million pounds
  • 2021: 1.3 million pounds

That's a 24% increase over just three years ago. Thompson attributes the increase to a combination of pandemic budget cuts and an increase in new Charlotte residents. She said those budget cuts impacted the trash pickup schedule. 

"During the pandemic, it got worse because our revenues declined," Thompson said. "So we were not able to stick to those four-week cycles as often as we wanted to."

Meanwhile, the city of Charlotte provides services that address litter but also offers volunteer efforts. Keep Charlotte Beautiful is run by the city's housing and neighborhood services. Through volunteer efforts, Keep Charlotte Beautiful collected 3,612 bags of litter last year. 

So far this year, Thompson said NCDOT has picked up 194,000 pounds of litter in Mecklenburg County and 1.4 million pounds statewide. 

Here is how you can volunteer to clean up.

Contact Meghan Bragg at mbragg@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

 

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