Sources of Highway Litter in Utah

The research described in this report was undertaken at the request of Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) in order to estimate the sources and major contributors to highway litter in Utah. The research involved outreach to each of the four UDOT Regions to understand the issues with highway litter and litter cleanup. Nine highway sites were selected for a detailed litter survey. At each site, field staff recorded each item of large litter (>4”) within areas ranging from 5,000-10,000 square feet. Based on the composition of the litter, information from interviews with UDOT Region staff and a review of proximate land uses, the sources of litter (i.e., trash/recycling vehicles, unsecured loads, vehicle debris, construction debris haulers, motorists, pedestrians) were estimated. The research finds that the two largest contributors to highway litter are trash/recycling vehicles and motorists, contributing 43% and 27% respectively, statewide. The relative contributions from these sources varied by region, with a relatively higher amount from trash/recycling vehicles (53%) in Region 2 and from motorists (32%) in Region 4. Overall litter volume tracks closely with population and traffic, with the highest volumes measured in Region 2 and the lowest volumes in Region 4. Of note is the amount of highway litter that consists of recyclable materials, ranging from 22.4% to 47.6%. The key research limitation is that the survey sites were known highway litter “hotspots” that may not accurately reflect the litter situation along other highway segments in Utah. Further, most of the surveyed areas were on limited access facilities where contributions to litter by pedestrians were negligible. Pedestrians as a source of litter will likely be higher along non-access-controlled highways.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Figures; Maps; Photos; Tables;
  • Pagination: 93p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01765533
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: UT- 21.01, 5H08465H
  • Contract Numbers: 21-8204
  • Created Date: Feb 2 2021 12:13PM