Arizona mayors surprise drive-thru customers with trash talk

Dive Brief:

  • The Don't Trash Arizona is getting creative with its anti-litter efforts by reviving an old idea for more direct resident engagement — surprising customers at drive-thru windows. The state group has teamed up with local fast food chain Whataburger to talk with customers at four of their locations today, as reported by KTAR News.
  • Mayors from Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale and Goodyear will take turns working the windows at these locations to educate customers about litter and its high cost to the state.
  • According to the campaign, it currently costs around $3 million per year to clean up litter along freeways in the area. 

Dive Insight:

Started in 2006, Don't Trash Arizona is a joint effort between the Maricopa Association of Governments and Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) that receives funding through a 2004 ballot referendum. ADOT crews collect an average 1.2 million pounds of litter in the area each year. Though last month Don't Trash Arizona announced new statistics showing the situation may be improving as the education begins to set in.

In addition to highlighting environmental downsides the program also focuses on safety risks which don't always get as much attention in anti-litter messaging. They emphasize the importance of securing loads when traveling on the area's long stretches of freeway and frequently cite the statistic that about 25,000 accidents occur in North America every year due to road debris. Tire pieces, mattresses and ladders are considered some of the most dangerous items that Arizona drivers may encounter.

Enforcing anti-littering action is an ongoing struggle for many municipalities, but for residents to hear these startling statistics while their mayor hands them a burger may be surprising enough for the message to sink in. For residents in Phoenix, which is currently involved in a number of visible waste diversion efforts, this could even be enough to get them thinking more about recycling at home too.

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Filed Under: Collections & Transfer Waste Diversion
Top image credit: Don't Trash AZ / Youtube