Largest Study on Litter in America Released by Keep America Beautiful

Keep America Beautiful Releases Largest Study on Litter in America

I Love A Clean San Diego County is the region’s official Keep America Beautiful affiliate, a member of its presidential circle and a major annual contributor of litter data from San Diego County.

SAN DIEGO, CA (May 19, 2021) – As the region’s official affiliate for Keep America Beautiful, I Love A Clean San Diego County is sharing the release of the largest study on litter in America published by Keep America Beautiful this week. As a result of its hundreds of environmental community cleanups and its two countywide cleanups, Creek to Bay Cleanup and Coastal Cleanup Day, I Love A Clean San Diego and its volunteers are one of the largest contributors of litter data to Keep America Beautiful.

The Keep America Beautiful 2020 National Litter Study provides a detailed understanding of the quantity, composition, and sources of litter across the United States. The organization’s 2020 study is a follow up to its landmark 2009 study, which builds on a history of science-based litter research started by Keep America Beautiful in 1969.

Key findings include:

  • Nearly 50 billion pieces of litter along U.S. roadways and waterways
  • Slightly more litter along waterways (25.9B) than roadways (23.7B)
  • 152 items for each U.S. resident
  • More than 2,000 pieces of litter per mile (both roadway and waterway)
  • 90% of people surveyed believe litter is a problem in their state
  • 6 billion pieces more than 4 inches in size
  • Most littered item remains cigarette butts, but this litter is down almost 70%
  • 207.1M PPE items littered

Follow this link for report PDF.

“This data will help inform our programs for years to come addressing both litter on the ground and the act of littering,” said Dr. Helen Lowman, Keep America Beautiful President and CEO. “Our many diverse partners, our 700 affiliate organizations, and the millions of volunteers activated annually will use this data to work towards our vision that everyone in America lives in a beautiful community.”

“This study accurately reflects the litter problem here in San Diego County, said I Love A Clean San Diego’s Executive Director Len Hering, RADM, USN (ret).” “While it is disheartening to see how large the litter problem is on a national scale, we are proud of our thousands of volunteers across our region who work to combat the issue and educate others from their first-hand experience.”

Keep America Beautiful retained Burns & McDonnell, a leading environmental engineering firm, to conduct its 2020 Study, which has four components: Public Attitudes Survey, Visible Litter Survey, Behavioral Observations Survey, and Financial Cost of Litter Survey (ongoing).

About Keep America Beautiful

Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading community improvement nonprofit organization, inspires and educates people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment. Established in 1953, Keep America Beautiful strives to End Littering, Improve Recycling, and Beautify America’s Communities. We believe everyone has a right to live in a clean, green, and beautiful community, and shares a responsibility to contribute to that vision. The organization is driven by the work and passion of nearly 700 Keep America Beautiful affiliates, millions of volunteers, and the collaborative support of corporate partners, social and civic service organizations, academia, municipalities, elected officials, and individuals. Join us on Facebook,InstagramTwitter, and YouTube.

About I Love A Clean San Diego County

Founded in 1954, I Love A Clean San Diego is an environmental nonprofit supporting residents and businesses of San Diego County through youth and adult education, and local action through impactful volunteer events and workshops. As San Diego’s most influential advocate for sustainability, I Love A Clean San Diego’s programs are an environmental catalyst, awakening passion and inspiring action to empower everyone to be leaders in conservation and waste-free living. Our community is passion in action to maintain and improve the health of the home we love. For more information, to volunteer or donate, visit or call (619) 291-0103. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.