What is the issue?
Our community generates waste, and improper handling of this material through littering, open trash dumpsters, and exposure to wind and water, results in a portion of this waste making its way into our local waterways. Recent trash assessments of local streams [DS1] found an average of 139 pieces of individual trash per 100 linear feet of stream. Trash was divided into categories (plastic, metal, glass, paper, etc.) and ranged in size from small cigarette butts to large items like furniture and tires.
Plastic made up 60% of all trash surveyed, and of this plastic material, the majority was single-use food related plastics, followed in second place by plastic bags. Even more concerning, plastic continues to breakdown into smaller and smaller pieces, called microplastics. These tiny, man-made particles persist in the environment indefinitely, moving through all phases of the water cycle and passing up the food chain through a process called bioaccumulation.
How does trash end up in our streams?
- Litter is intentionally tossed out windows, or unintentionally blows out of uncovered trailers and truck beds.
- Residents choose to dump their household waste and bulky items in an illegal location because they may not have the resources to properly dispose of it.
- Clothing and camp supplies from the community’s unsheltered population are washed downstream during storm events.
What can be done?
The City of Springfield has been monitoring the amount of litter collected through existing programs such as Adopt-A-Stream and for years. These litter amounts, combined with information from recent Stream Trash Assessments begin to paint a picture of the types of litter that Springfield struggles with the most and the areas where we see the biggest problems. By continuing to study litter in our community, we hope to continue to plan programs and initiatives to specifically target the sources of that pollution.
Clean Green Springfield
In 2021, over 1,000 volunteers contributed more than 2,400 service hours to Clean Green Springfield activities. Participants helped remove 23 tons of litter from our streets and waterways, with more than 200 tons of trash/bulky items disposed of properly. Join the City of Springfield and partners in our challenge to make Springfield a more beautiful, clean, and connected community.
The City of Springfield has installed several trash nets in stormwater infrastructure throughout the City. Designed to remove trash and debris during storm events, net systems have one or more mesh bags and a metal frame to support the nets. When full, nets are removed and emptied, and material is transferred and disposed of properly at the City landfill. Stormwater debris nets or trash nets are a relatively new technology used to capture trash and debris (such as grass clippings or leaves) from stormwater runoff. These nets can be installed at the end of a stormwater pipe or in a channel. A study found that installation of trash nets and trash racks has a high return on investment, so the City has installed several pilot nets around town. The study can be found on this website.
Vote with Your Butt
The concept is simple, smokers vote by placing their cigarette butt if the preferred answer slot. Not a smoker? Participate by picking up cigarette butt litter in the surrounding area. Cities around the world have installed ballot bin boxes to address cigarette butt pollution. A study found that the boxes reduced cigarette butt litter in the area by 73%. Cigarette butts are the most littered items in the world and although they look like paper, they are made of plastic fibers. Recent trash assessments of local Springfield streams found an average of 128 pieces of trash per 100 feet. Plastic composed 60% of trash surveyed and, of the 60%, most was single-use plastic followed by plastic bags.