New programs take aim at litter in Kingsport

Matthew Lane • May 3, 2019 at 9:17 AM

KINGSPORT — Nearly 30 percent of the litter you see on the streets and highways of Tennessee is “intentional” litter, meaning someone threw it out the window of a vehicle.

That’s simply unacceptable for the folks at Keep Kingsport Beautiful, and it’s a number they hope to reduce with the help of a $95,000 grant the organization recently received from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

KKB officials held a press conference Thursday morning to announce the grant and explain further what the $95,000 is going toward to help move the littering needle in the other direction.

Robin Cleary, executive director of the KKB, said the organization plans to roll out five programs in the coming weeks to help reduce the amount of litter found on the streets of Kingsport.

“Some of these ideas we’ve come up with on our own. Some we’ve borrowed from others. This is all about educating the public and reducing the cost we spend on litter across the state,” Cleary said. “Research shows that education is key, and if you keep it in front of people enough, keep that message consistent, you do change behaviors.”


The grant-funded programs were developed by KKB and Kingsport Public Works and will feature TDOT’s “Nobody Trashes Tennessee” message. The programs include:

— Kingsport Public Works vehicles wrapped with “Nobody Trashes Tennessee” branding.

— A Clean Out Your Car event with Visit Kingsport at the Interstate 26 Welcome Center.

— Providing Kingsport Farmers Market vendors with paper bags, in place of plastic, for customer purchases. In addition, KKB will be providing market customers with reusable shopping bags.

— The purchase of 80 special events recycling receptacles to increase recycling rates at public events.

— A Cover Your Load event at the Kingsport Landfill to raise awareness about litter law enforcement and about how folks should cover the beds of their trucks when bringing trash and debris to the landfill.


According to TDOT, at least $15 million is spent annually to pick up litter in Tennessee. Last year, Kingsport alone spent $108,000 on litter collection.

A 2016 statewide litter study found there are more than 100 million pieces of litter on Tennessee roadways. Statewide, 72 percent of the litter is considered negligent litter, which includes debris and trash flying out of uncovered truck beds.

The remainder of litter on state roadways — some 28 percent — is classified as “intentional” litter, meaning that it is being thrown right out of vehicles. This is unacceptable and entirely preventable, Cleary said.