Litter & Plastics FAQs

Who's responsible for cleaning up litter?

There’s no real straightforward answer to this question. It really depends on where the litter is located. Litter along interstates and major highways is typically the responsibility of the state’s department of transportation (DOT). If the litter is located on private property, then the property owner is responsible. Litter found in parks and other public spaces is typically the responsibility of those that work for the park.

Volunteers, however, are heavily relied on to clean-up litter no matter where it’s located.

Does the DOT have a litter clean-up program?

Yes, both the Ohio and Michigan Departments of Transportation (ODOT and MDOT) have litter clean-up programs. As part of their environmental initiatives, they have educational anti-litter campaigns running, along with physical litter collections, to reduce litter along highways. In addition, they offer several other litter related programs.

  • ODOT Adopt-a-Highway and MDOT Adopt-a-Landscape works with groups/organizations in the community that pickup litter along Indiana highways in two-mile stretches.
  • ODOT Sponsor-a-Highway works with groups/organizations in the community that hire private companies to pickup litter along Indiana highways not covered in the Adopt-a-Highway program.
  • The Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) have developed a statewide litter campaign to prioritize and promote the conversation around litter in Ohio, A Little Litter is a Big Problem. The agencies are seeking local governments, environmentally focused groups, businesses, educational institutions, and additional community organizations to partner with us to spread this message across the state.


How can I volunteer or help with litter clean-ups?

You don’t need to be part of an organized effort to help with litter clean-up. Just grab a trash bag and walk through your neighborhood – you’re sure to find plenty of trash along roadside right-of-ways, waterways, or storm drains. Here are some other ways to be involved in local clean-ups.

Is there a difference between littering and illegal dumping?

There is a difference between littering and illegal dumping, however, the difference between the two often varies from state-to-state. The difference is often determined by the type and amount. Littering, for example, would be throwing an empty to-go cup out along the side of the road. Throwing out an old mattress, refrigerator, or multiple bags full of trash would be considered illegal dumping.  It’s also important to note that improper disposal of hazardous or toxic items might also be considered illegal dumping even though the item may be small in size.

Many County and City Solid Waste programs have Large or Bulk pick-up available. Some may have Electronic and Hazardous Waste recycling as well.