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TDOT funds the Litter Grant Program to provide grants to counties to assist in litter control activities and litter prevention education.

Litter is an unsightly problem across the state of Tennessee and harms the environment, poses a risk to wildlife, creates an eyesore for tourists. It can also discourage new businesses and industry from moving to the state. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) takes an active role in addressing this problem by funding several statewide litter pickup and prevention programs.

Since 1981, TDOT has been distributing approximately $4 million annually in grant funding to each of the 95 counties in Tennessee. These grants are used by the counties for litter pickup activities and anti-litter education programs. These funds are obtained through the collection of a specialty tax on the malt beverage and soft drink industry established through the Litter Grant Bill (TCA 41-2-123). Receipts from this tax are also used to fund the Keep Tennessee Beautiful program, our state Keep America Beautiful affiliate.

In 1991, TDOT implemented the education component of the Litter Grant Program which requires each county to spend a portion of their grant funds on three to five education areas. Education funding can be used in a variety of ways, such as sharing litter control awareness with schools, citizens and businesses. Through the litter pickup program, approximately 25.5 million pounds of roadside litter have been picked up on approximately 292,000 miles of county roads, and approximately 45,000 miles of state routes. The funds that each county receives are determined by county road miles and county population in order to ensure an equitable distribution statewide.

During the past 2 years, TDOT has provided approximately $500,000 from the specialty tax to fund a new statewide litter prevention campaign StopLitter™-Tennessee’s Had Enough. This Campaign marks a new collaborative effort among several public, private and non-profit groups in Tennessee. Television and radio public service announcements have a “man on the street” feel with actual citizens commenting on how disgusting litter is. The message particularly targets the 18 to 34 year-old demographic in Tennessee. National studies have shown that this age group contributes the most to litter found in our communities. The end result is a passionate, hard-hitting, in-your-face message that relays Tennesseans’ frustration with litter. In addition StopLitter™ billboards are being displayed along roadsides statewide courtesy of Tennessee’s Outdoor Advertising Association, and localized grassroots efforts by Keep Tennessee Beautiful affiliates and TDOT litter grant recipients will bring home the campaign logo and slogan to all 95 counties in Tennessee.

To find out more about Tennessee’s Litter Grant program, please visit www.tennessee.gov/tdot/environment/beautification/littergrant.htm or contact the State Litter Grant Program Coordinator, at 615.532.3456.