Keep America Beautiful, Inc. (KAB) in handling the problem of roadside litter has been faced with the question of how to measure the amount of litter present. The price count or volume measurement of material removed from specified stretches of highway, used in most studies of roadside litter, is too expensive and time consuming to be used on a continuing basis by most states. Studies show that most people judge the degree of litter by the space it covers, rather than by actual volume or number of items. To meet this objective, the American Public Works Association developed for KAB the photometric index of litter accumulation. To develop the base for a photometric index, the investigator, with the community planning office or some other analtyical agency, selects the sample strata required to accurately reflect the community (or highway system or other universe) as a whole. Photographs are then taken of a precisely located 96-square-foot area of a random sample of sites within each stratum. In evaluating the sites, the investigator compensates for distortion by placing a clear plastic, 96-square, grid over the photos. Each square containing litter counts as one, reflecting the visual impact of the loose trash at that site. The mean of the scores becomes the baseline. Subsequent photos of another random sample of each of the strata are evaluated in the same way and their mean score is expressed in a percentage reduction (or increase) against the baseline. The photometric index is being used to measure the accomplishments of KAB's Action Research Model in Charlotte, N.C. It is proving to be simple, inexpensive, and accurate. The Action Research Model is a project to develop a behaviorally-based systems approach to reduce litter to manageable proportions. Field testing of the model will be completed shortly and KAB will issue the final report at its annual meeting in December. Results to date have been extremely promising - the downward trend in accumulated litter in Charlotte appears to have become sustained - and it is anticipated that, when the report is completed, a tested plan of action any community can use to increase its level of cleanliness will be available.

Media Info

  • Pagination: p. 16-19
  • Serial:
    • APWA Reporter
    • Volume: 42
    • Issue Number: 8
    • Publisher: American Public Works Association
    • ISSN: 0092-4873

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00125528
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 16 1975 12:00AM