PHOENIX (October 23, 2017)—Fewer Maricopa County motorists are littering, but cigarette butts, dangerous debris, and items blowing out of car windows remain a challenge to keeping our freeways clean.

The most recent survey by Don’t Trash Arizona, a litter education program of the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) in partnership with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), revealed that 13 percent fewer motorists admitted to littering this year over last year. The drop supports ADOT numbers released earlier this year that indicate highway littering overall is on the decline.

The survey, conducted by WestGroup Research, found that those who are most likely to litter, males aged 18-34, reported an 88 percent increase in cigarette butt littering compared to 2016. Another common littering situation among that target demographic was items accidentally blowing out of their car, with numbers doubling over last year.

“People need to understand: Cigarette butts are litter,” says MAG Chair Jackie Meck, mayor of Buckeye. “Cigarette butts may be small, but their impact to our roadways are huge. They are harmful to the environment and difficult to clean up. We urge motorists to find responsible ways to dispose of them. We also need people to remember to secure vehicle loads with tarps or bungee cords and to be careful items don’t blow out of open car windows.”

Additional findings include:

  • Seven in ten (70%) residents surveyed reported they have not littered in the past year, a significant improvement over last year (62%).
  • Among those who reported littering items, food/organic material continues to be the most common type of litter mentioned by residents (46%) followed by small pieces of paper (24%).
  • Among those who littered, 21 percent reported doing so by leaving debris, such as a tire, on the side of the road after experiencing vehicle problems.
  • Awareness of the Don’t Trash Arizona campaign website ( has increased to its highest level ever recorded.

This year’s survey involved reaching the target demographic with an online component, used at a higher rate than in previous years, which could have affected the type of responses given.

A full copy of the survey and key findings is available at The site also includes information about littering, activities and resources for students and teachers, a page to report littering violations, and other information.

About Don’t Trash Arizona

Don't Trash Arizona is a program implemented by the Maricopa Association of Governments, in collaboration with the Arizona Department of Transportation, to address the economic, safety, and health impacts of freeway litter along regional and state highways. The program is funded through Proposition 400, which was approved by voters in 2004. That funding encompasses litter pickup, sweeping, and landscape maintenance, as well as litter education and prevention. Don't Trash Arizona seeks to change attitudes, awareness, and most importantly, behavior, when it comes to roadway littering. Visit

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