Alabama Litter Laws Strengthened – Is That Enough?

By on September 6, 2019

By: Lynne Hart

Fines for littering across the State of Alabama have increased as of Sunday, September 1, 2019.

Littering will now be a class B misdemeanor. The minimum fine for a first offense littering incident will now be $500 across the state. A second offense could lead to a fine of $1,000 plus up to 100 hours of community service cleaning up litter.

We at KALB are very happy that state officials are taking the crime of littering more seriously; however, we also strongly believe that no matter how high the fines are raised, littering will not stop until offenders are fined and made to do more than just clean up their mess.

According to the Code of Alabama, a person commits the crime of criminal littering if he or she knowingly deposits, in any manner, litter on any public or private property or in any public or private waters, having no permission to do so. This includes tossing trash and cigarette litter out of a vehicle window, loose trash flying out of a truck bed or other type of vehicle, and illegally dumping trash on land or in the water.

Some might say there are more important crimes to worry about. That may be true. That does not mean that laws on the books should be ignored. Our environment is our home. It’s where we live. It’s the water we drink and the food that we eat. It’s the air we breathe. It’s the wildlife that share this planet with us and have no say in how much filth they must live with. Littered and trashy communities give the impression that residents have no pride. This can breed crime. In the long run, protecting our local environment is pretty important.M

Yes, Cigarette Butts Are Litter

Often people who would never litter will think nothing of tossing a cigarette butt out of their vehicle window, or tossing it on the ground and crushing it with their shoe.

Cigarette filters are NOT made of cotton, as some people think. They are made of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that will take many years to break down.

Worse than that, the poisons and chemicals the filter is designed to trap will seep into the soil and into our groundwater, or wash into our waterways. This can lead to poisoning fish and other wildlife, polluting waterways in which people swim and play, and polluting our soil and water. We rely on a clean environment to produce our food and provide our drinking water. One cigarette filter may not seem like much, but when you consider that trillions (not millions or billions) are tossed irresponsibly every year, it becomes a major problem.

We ALL Must Be Part Of The Solution

You may think that one person can’t make much of a difference. Well you can. Many complain about litter and illegal dumping; however, if that’s ALL we do, then we become part of the problem. We must all be willing to do what is necessary to help discourage people from trashing our beautiful community.

  • Take a bag with you when you walk and pick up just a few pieces of litter each time. Remember to take a second bag if you are walking with your dog.
  • Pick a littered location and get friends or family to help you clean it up. KALB will provide all needed supplies.
  • Report Litterbugs! CALL OUR LITTER HOTLINE: 256-233-8000 Report litterbugs! Please don’t ignore the problem.

The solution does not stop with the citizens. Law enforcement must play a major role in correcting the littering mindset in this community. We can raise the fines to a million dollars, but if no one is ever fined, it will make no difference at all. Encourage law enforcement officials to treat littering as the crime that it is.

Let’s work together, and work hard, to encourage litterbugs to stop this destructive behavior. Let’s make our voices heard!
By: Lynne Hart
Executive Coordinator – Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful