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Who is responsible for roadside garbage?

A snail on a wet mountain of trash on the roadside. Garbage affects the entire environment. Credit: Win Cowger / UCR

According to new research, items in garbage usually occur within 2 miles of where they are found. Most of these items will not leave the environment unless humans remove them.


For the study, researchers at the University of California, Riverside spent a month collecting trash from seven sites across the Inland Empire. They were able to look at their composition, identify the manufacturers of many items, and, thanks to receipts, determine where the item was purchased.

Most trash items get to the street just a short distance from where someone bought them. In other words, trash It comes from a local source. This finding could help cities prevent plastic debris that ultimately pollutes water and air.

“Many people say,’It’s not my trash,'” said Win Cowger, a UCR environmental scientist and lead author of the study. “At least here in the Inland Empire, we want to dispel that concept with the evidence we have.”

Some people theorize that wind, water, or other factors are responsible for moving debris through urban areas.This study published in the journal Environmental researchWas the first type to investigate local waste in great detail, and it was confirmed that humans are the main means of moving from sellers to the streets.

Who is responsible for roadside garbage?

Student research volunteers at the University of California, Riverside surround Captain Charles Moore, the discoverer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Credit: Win Cowger / UCR

To reach these conclusions, 18 undergraduate and graduate students Data collection We surveyed roadsides up to 3,280 feet several times a week at Riverside, Moreno Valley, Loma Linda, San Dimas, and Palm Desert.

Almost 60 percent of the material they found was plastic. Most were food-related, followed by tobacco products. Similarly, the top producers of these items were Philip Morris, Mars Incorporated, RJ Reynolds, and Jack in the Box when they were identifiable.

People are responsible for the flow of items from the store to the street, so you may want to blame the bad behavior of the garbage. However, researchers feel that individuals, policy makers, and manufacturers must all work together to solve the problem.

“There has been a lot of emphasis on individual human behavior as a way to reduce the rate of littering,” said Andrew Gray, a UCR environmental scientist and research author. “In fact, it’s just as easy and even more accurate to say that if we don’t produce something like that in the first place, it won’t invade the environment.”

At the local level, researchers conclude that cities have a variety of tools to address this issue. These may include banning items that go out frequently, or increasing the frequency of street cleaning.

Who is responsible for roadside garbage?

A familiar sight to most urban dwellers on the riverside. Credit: Stan Lim / UCR

Studies have also shown that purification of littermates does not prevent recurrence, so bans and other preventative measures have been proposed. Every time researchers came to investigate, they also cleaned the site to find the same amount of trash when they returned.

“Some people have the broken windows theory that trash produces trash, but even if you keep the place clean, the accumulation is really consistent and you need to do something else to prevent trash in the first place.” Said Cowger.

To better understand how trash moves to the side of the road and how to clean it, researchers are planning additional studies in Long Beach, California and Oregon. In addition, Cowger is working on a universal index of waste research terms to help connect this survey with other surveys.

One of the similar connectivity issues trash Data sets are the difference in the language used to describe garbage. For example, “pouch” is the term used by East Asian countries for what Americans call rappers. This is an item often represented in garbage piles. The Cowger index helps unify the terminology so that you can better understand the global causes and impacts of waste.

The action on this issue is very important. Plastics can release harmful chemicals into the surrounding soil, which can invade groundwater and surface water. Larger plastics are harmful to animals and reduce the aesthetic appeal of the constructed natural environment, while microplastics also fall out of larger items as they decompose. These are new pollutants of concern with a variety of potential adverse effects. Human health..

“Ultimately everything invades the environment, so there is a more systematic approach that we need to adopt as humans to determine what is produced,” Gray said.


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For more information:
Win Cowger et al, Littermate Origin, Accumulation Rate, and Hierarchical Composition on the Roadside of the City of Riverside-San Bern, California, Environmental research letter (2021). DOI: 10.1088 / 1748-9326 / ac3c6a

Quote: Who is responsible for roadside garbage? (February 8, 2022) Obtained February 8, 2022 from https: //phys.org/news/2022-02-responsible-roadside-rubbish.html

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Who is responsible for roadside garbage?

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