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Officials Say Motorist Anti-Trash Campaign Is Working

The Maricopa Association of Governments says a campaign to cut down on trash is working.

MAG funds the program called “Don’t Trash Arizona” at a cost of $300,000 a year. The money comes from a sales-tax increase approved by voters in 2004. Half of the money is spent on advertising reminding motorists not to litter.

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell says marketing the state for its pristine beauty won’t work if the roadways are littered with cigarette butts.

“Keeping our state beautiful for our tourists will keep them coming back again and again. On the flip side, we want to make sure that these tourists keep our state clean when they visit,” Mitchell said.

According to MAG, new numbers from the Arizona Department of Transportation show the campaign is working. In 2006 when the program began, ADOT was picking up 130,000 bags of trash from the side of the road every year. By 2016 that mountain of trash bags was cut in half.

Despite the success, MAG says it still costs taxpayers $3 million annually to pick up trash from Maricopa County freeways.

Jimmy Jenkins was a producer and senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2014 to 2021.