‘Don’t Mess With Texas’: New state anti-litter law can mean up to 60 hours of community service for convicted violators


A proposed new environmental law would allow judges to sentence convicted litterers to up to 60 hours of community service picking up debris or working in a local recycling facility.

The new law was approved in bipartisan fashion this session by the Texas Legislature, which recently sent House Bill 1884 to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature. If approved, the bill would go into effect Sept. 1.

Texas House Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco, a practicing veterinarian, authored the bill, with sponsorship from state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst R-Brenham.

“TxDOT had done a study, and there was an 82 percent increase in trash and debris and litter on rural highways. So I mean it was definitely something that was needed,” Anderson said. “Community service is an option that the judge has at that judge’s discretion to actually help clean up the area and help the community in general. It just adds another option and the goal is to discourage that behavior and help clean the trash that the individual may have contributed to.”

Littering was already a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and the possibility of jail time or community service. The new law, if signed, allows sentencing to include some amount of community service picking up litter or working in a recycling facility. The amount of community service hours and where they will be carried out is determined case-by-case by the presiding judge. However, all community service must be carried out in the offender’s county of residence.

Texas roadways accumulate over 434 million pieces of visible litter each year, according to a 2013 survey released by The Texas Department of Transportation. The survey also revealed that one in four Texans admitted to littering in the past year, with younger individuals more likely to do so.

In Austin alone, city staff and volunteers pull 250 tons of trash from Lady Bird Lake and 6,500 tons of trash from the streets annually, according to a 2017 study commissioned by Texans for Clean Water, a nonprofit advocacy group. The city of Austin confirmed and reported that while some of the trash is dropped directly in the water, the majority washes in from streets, parking lots and storm drains.

In 2015, the city of Houston removed over 35,000 cubic yards of litter and debris at a cost of over 1.6 million and the city of Fort Worth removed 2800 tons of debris from illegal dumpsites, spending over $5 million in litter and illegal dumping abatement, the study reported.

The same study revealed that Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Laredo, Lufkin, Midland and San Antonio spend more than $50 million per year on cleaning litter.

However, despite the money poured into litter abatement, the study by Texans for Clean Water showed the nine Texas cities spent less than $10 million in 2015 to prevent littering and illegal dumping.

“Enforcement, and letting people know we’re serious about keeping Texas clean, is definitely key in the fight against litter,” said Mike Garver, founder of Texans for Clean Water, in a statement.

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  1. Given this statement here: “Enforcement, and letting people know we’re serious about keeping Texas clean, is definitely key in the fight against litter,” said Mike Garver, founder of Texans for Clean Water, in a statement.”

    Let’s do a STING Anyone that can write a ticket starts writing tickets. Metro Police HCC Police, Houston Police, Fire Department.
    Write tickets to the beer drinkers that drop the cans where they sit along Main Street 100 yard from a metro rail platform. Put cameras up in hotspots just temporary.

    Clamp down, pick areas if needed for concentrated campaigns. Make sure that shopping centers keep the trash bins from overflowing in our windy city.

    Make property owners responsible for cleaning up when there is more than 5 pounds of trash on their property. I’ll show you a perfect example.

    Even the COH City of Houston staff need to be trained to mind litter. I watched one crew fill a public garbage can to overflowing instead of disposing of it properly. I have a picture of the trash accumulating outside of the receptacle because the COH dude filled it up.
    I watch Metro Fare inspectors toe aside trash while they are between trains. I am a paying metro rider and If I can pick up trash on a Metro Platform then so can all Metro employees, Drivers, Fare Inspectors. ETC…

    I’ve got more to say and I need to put it all together a little more professionally but I think you get the gist.

    The problem is rampant because there is no penalty.

    Adopt a block, Adopt a highway, adopt a Metro Shelter/Stop, Adopt a street drain to protect Galveston Bay.

    How about adopting a policy where the city uses it’s legislated powers to turn this around. The litter in Midtown is Out of control. How much did we spend on a Midtown Park and two blocks away is trash, 10 blocks is the dump. CVS parking lot has human feces and a dumpster that is past decay! They got a new compactor so they jsut ignore the dumpster in the parking lot.

    I also think that Greensheets should not distribute in the area. Greensheets are probably 5 percent of what I pick up! The paper is used to protect the homeless butt when they sit down for the beers and Maddog 20/20 or the big miller liters.

    I am a litter Bug. I see litter it really bugs me

    Catch the bug and pick up some litter.

    If every single person were to pick up just 1 piece of litter per day and put it in its place there would not be any.

    Try walking where I walk. It really is getting worse.

    Give me a job, I am passionate about this but I feel so small.

    Adopt a block could work just like all the other adoptions.


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