Litter Facts

Cigarette Butts

  • Cigarette waste is the most abundant form of litter in Arkansas and on the planet.
  • Collected cigarette litter weighs in the millions of pounds annually.
  • Cigarette filters are not biodegradable; they are made of plastic, not paper and cotton.
  • Cigarette litter lingers in our environment up to 25 years.
  • Cigarette butts are lightweight and can easily move through our storm drains into our waterways and water supplies.
  • Water will leach the toxins from cigarette litter, making it deadly to most aquatic life. In fact, the toxins released from one cigarette butt left in a gallon of water for one day will kill about 80 percent of aquatic life added to that water.

Source: Clean Virginia Waterways

Plastic Foam

  • Plastic foam from items like cups does not break down naturally.
  • Annually, Americans produce enough plastic foam cups to circle the earth more than 400 times.
  • Plastic foam can stay in the environment for up to 500 years.

Source: Valley Vista Services

Food Wrappers and Containers

  • One of every five items of litter is food-related.
  • 10 percent of all litter is food wrappers.
  • Most fast-food litter is found in close proximity to a fast-food restaurant.
  • People who eat fast food in their vehicles are twice as likely to litter.

Source: Don’t Mess With Texas


  • For every ton of paper that is recycled, 17 trees are saved.
  • In this decade, Americans will throw away almost 5 million tons of office paper and nearly 10 tons of newspaper.
  • Each person in the United States uses about 675 pounds of paper a year.
  • 40 percent of all waste is paper.
  • Arkansans use more than 18 million pounds of paper a year.

Sources: Coshocton County (Ohio) Litter Prevention and Recycling Office, and Georgia-Pacific Corp.


  • 6 percent of all waste is glass.
  • Glass bottles can stay in our environment up to 1,000 years.
  • In this decade, Americans will throw away more than 11 million tons of glass bottles and jars.
  • There are as many as 800 glass bottles along each mile of rural road in Arkansas.

Sources: Georgia-Pacific Corp., The Rosemary Garden and


  • Plastic pieces usually include plastic caps and lids, plastic straws and plastic bottles. In fact, 10 percent of all waste is plastic.
  • More than 80 percent of Americans reuse plastic products and packaging in their homes.
  • It takes 36 two-liter bottles to produce one square yard of carpet.
  • Plastic bottles can stay in our environment indefinitely.
  • Five recycled plastic bottles make enough fiberfill to stuff a ski jacket.

Sources: Georgia-Pacific Corp.,, Erie County (Ohio) Recycles, The Rosemary Garden and

Aluminum Cans

  • Aluminum cans can stay in our environment up to 500 years.
  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to keep a 100-watt light bulb burning for almost 20 hours or power a television for three hours.
  • 20 cans can be made from recycled material with the same amount of energy it takes to make one new can.
  • In this decade, Americans will throw away more than one million tons of aluminum cans and foil.
  • Enough aluminum is thrown away every three months to rebuild every commercial airplane in America.

Sources: The Rosemary Garden and

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