Toll-free hotline empowers citizens to fight litter in their community

Arkansans report littering 24-hours a day

Residents across the state are now personally empowered to enforce Arkansas’ littering laws, thanks to a new toll-free hotline created by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.

The hotline, in operation since December, has already received more than 2,500 reports of littering. Tobacco products are the No. 1 item littered from vehicles on the state’s roadways, followed by paper products and fast-food containers. An item thrown from a vehicle or blown from an open truck bed is considered to be “littered” and eligible for reporting to the hotline. Arkansas is one of eight states with a telephone number for reporting litter violations.

The 24-hour hotline makes reporting a litter violation quick, simple and anonymous. Motorists witnessing a litter-law violation can call 1-866-811-1222 and provide the date and location where the littering occurred, a description of the vehicle and the license plate, and a description of the item littered. A letter from the Highway Police will then be sent to the vehicle’s owner alerting him or her of the unlawful action and educating him or her about the consequences of littering in Arkansas.

“Our goal is to let Arkansans know this is a problem we take seriously and will pursue thoroughly through the enforcement of Arkansas’ litter laws,” says Arkansas Highway Police Chief Ron Burks.

Robert Phelps, director of Keep Arkansas Beautiful, which is helping the Highway Department promote the litter hotline, adds, “Roadside litter is serious problem in The Natural State. Last year, nearly 6 million pounds of litter was picked up from the state’s roadways, requiring $5 million in state tax dollars to get it done. Littering is not only illegal and hazardous for the environment, but it also puts an undue strain on state funds and negatively impacts a community’s economic development efforts.”

Phelps says many Arkansans don’t realize the economic impact littering really has. Just last year, the community of Wynne landed an auto-parts plant when the site-selection committee noticed how litter-free the town was and added the town to its list of communities to consider. Wynne wasn’t even on the committee’s original list of towns to consider; committee members just happened to be passing through on their way to other Delta towns under consideration.

Because Phelps and the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission recognize all the repercussions litter has on The Natural State, the Commission is underwriting a major mass-media campaign to educate Arkansans about the availability of the litter hotline. In partnership with the Highway Department, the Arkansas State Police, the State Library System, Game and Fish Commission and the Governor’s Anti-Litter Task Force, Keep Arkansas Beautiful is using traditional and non-traditional advertising opportunities to reach Arkansans.

The advertisements feature an original “Schoolhouse Rock”-esque song about the hotline number, a fully animated television commercial and colorful print illustrations. The radio spot is airing in 53 counties across the state, and the TV spot is airing on cable networks around the state.

The print illustrations appear on billboard space donated by the Arkansas Outdoor Advertisers Association and on eight of the Highway Department’s extra-large signs along Interstates 30 and 40. The illustrations are also currently displayed on posters at highway rest stops, in children’s coloring books, on car litterbags and on counter displays in many of the state’s libraries, Tourism Welcome Centers, State Park Visitor Centers, and Game and Fish Nature Centers and Interpretive Centers.

“We want as many Arkansans as possible to know about the litter hotline and use it to combat littering in their communities, and that is why all of these different sorts promotional avenues are so important,” says Phelps. “It’s important that we reach as many Arkansans as possible. If we all make it a habit to not litter and report those who do, Arkansas will be litter-free.”

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