The newly established Task Force on Statewide Litter Abatement and Beautification, administered by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and Keep Louisiana Beautiful, met for the first time on February 15, 2022 at The Estuary at the Water Campus in Baton Rouge, where they learned about the escalating levels of litter in Louisiana and began discussing ways to tackle the problem. They were welcomed by Governor John Bel Edwards and heard from Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser; Susan Russell, Executive Director of Keep Louisiana Beautiful; and Dr. Cecile Carson, Chief Executive Officer of Carson Consulting.
The group of 26 Task Force members—representatives from various state and local government agencies, businesses, private groups, and communities—went into the meeting with set objectives. They sought to first establish a general understanding of the state’s litter problem, which they gained with an informative presentation by Susan Russell of Keep Louisiana Beautiful.
Russell shared that Louisiana is ranked the 8th most littered state and our recycling rate is only 12.87%—well below the national average of 34%. Despite spending over $40 million in litter abatement each year, we are seeing more litter than ever. Some costs include death of wildlife, exposure to harmful contaminants, depreciating property values, decline in tourism and business, reduced quality of life, increased flooding, and a negative impact on our health and safety.
Led by a planning group, the Task Force members engaged in meaningful dialogue on where Louisiana is falling short in the fight against litter. They then brainstormed ways to improve our attitudes and behaviors, and discussed potential paths forward.
In the coming months, the Task Force will meet four more times before presenting their recommendations to Governor Edwards by July 1, 2022. The next meeting is on March 16.