Litter Facts

It’s just a fast food wrapper, a cigarette butt, an apple core. No big deal, right? Wrong. Litter affects everyone in Arizona. It not only costs Maricopa County taxpayers $5 million every year to clean up roadways, litter is harmful to the environment and to our health.

  • More than 118,000 bags of litter were picked up from Valley freeways in 2021. More than 425 bags of litter are removed each weekday from Valley freeways, totaling about 1.6 million pounds of litter each year.
  • Debris on freeways causes 51,000 accidents in the U.S. every year, injuring nearly 10,000.
  • 45% of litter is accidental and comes from debris falling from trucks or from other unsecured loads.
  • Road Debris accounted for 1,075 accidents and seven deaths in 2020 (information courtesy AZDPS).


Get the FAQs

How Long Does it Take Litter to Decompose?

  • Styrofoam container: More than 1 million years
  • Plastic jug: 1 million years
  • Aluminum can: 200 to 500 years
  • Plastic bag: 500 to 1,000 years
  • Disposable diaper: 500 years
  • Banana peel: 3 weeks to 5 years

Types of Litter


According to the 2022 Litter Evaluation Survey, those who admit to littering were most likely to do so while driving or riding in a vehicle.

Here’s what they throw out:

Litter Costs


  • A littering fine is $500.
  • Unsecured loads can result in fines ranging from $500 to $1,000.
  • Litter costs Maricopa County taxpayers $5 million a year for the 150,000 hours of labor needed to clean up the Valley's roadways.
  • Litter costs the state economy in lost productivity, congestion and traffic delays when commuters sit in traffic because of litter in the roadway.
  • In Maricopa County, there are an average of 2 deaths per year due to road debris.
  • Nationally, about 125 people die every year from dangerous debris.

Top 10 Dangerous Types of Highway Debris

Tire Alligators

1. Tire Alligators