Letter to the Editor: Steps needed to reduce litter in Delaware

This is in regards to a plague which affects virtually the entire state of Delaware. Almost no area or roadway escapes the severe litter problem we have in this state. Our roadways and parks look like we are mired in the depths of poverty. We need to take action now before we pass the point of no return.

I have written to our governor and our representatives at all levels yet the steps take to date pale in comparison to the problem at hand. The Governor’s Office did reply to me with a lengthy discussion of the measures they were unable to enact. Failing to enact legislation is not progress. Good intentions don’t count. We need concrete actions.

While most of us have seen the DOC crews at work cleaning up our roadways, the fact is that until we take proactive steps to curb the problem, we will never have sufficient resources to clean up after the fact. We must address the causes with more vigor than we use to clean up after the fact.

I have made several basic, easy to implement steps that would help curb the problem while also bringing it the attention it deserves:

1) Say something! We do not hear any dialog from any of our state or local officials regarding this subject matter. We (and they) need to make it clear that littering is an unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated. Lack of a dialog from our officials sends the message that the current situation and behaviors are acceptable.

2) Post signs! We see virtually no signs posted advising that littering and dumping are illegal as well as the fines for such behavior. Additionally, the fines need to be of a magnitude that they will actually deter the behavior. In North Carolina (for example), the fine is up to $1,500 plus possible jail time. These penalties need to be enforced.

3) Require tarps! Any vehicle transporting any cargo (trash or otherwise) in an open bed (trailer or truck bed) must have a tarp secured sufficient to prevent any of the cargo from escaping the vehicle. I have seen trailers full of garbage on route 20 (near the Georgetown Waste Station) that have garbage flying off all along their way to the Waste Station.

I have seen similar actions up near the Wilmington area. We need to stop that.

4) Require trash receptacles. Businesses should provide and maintain trash receptacles or bins for public use. Many of these businesses sell goods. Those goods are packaged and ultimately produce trash that needs to be disposed of.

The tradeoff should be a requirement that these businesses provide trash receptacles for public use. Yes they will have to pay somebody to maintain them but that is part of the cost of doing business and part of being a good neighbor. This is especially true of businesses that sell “to go” food items.

5) Require site cleanup. The construction taking place in Delaware creates a fair amount of debris along our roadways. These construction companies should be required to police their sites on a daily basis and commensurate fines should be levied for non-compliance.

Our representatives (including our local representatives) should stop bowing down to the businesses and get back to doing the most good for the most people. If the current trends continue, our state will cease to be a desirable location. All of the residents or Delaware will pay the price one way or another. We need action and we need it now.

Dave Moeller is a resident of Millville.

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