Litter Removal


Operation Clean Sweep MD Litter Campaign

Highway maintenance is a year-round effort and priority of the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA). Litter removal is a significant aspect of MDOT SHA’s highway maintenance program. Litter comes in many forms, including cigarette butts, fast food wrappers, cans, bottles, and other general refuse, as well as illegal dumping sites full of tires and other bulky items. Litter is ugly and a hindrance to other maintenance activities. It can be dangerous to highway users and highway crews, it is harmful to our waterways, and it is an expensive problem to address. All the money and resources dedicated to this activity can be repurposed to more meaningful work if people throw trash where it belongs, in a trash can or the landfill.

The Cost of Litter

Nearly $8 million is spent by MDOT SHA to remove approximately 5,300 truckloads of litter each year. Over the course of 5 years that’s more than 27,000 truckloads and nearly $40 million!

Statewide Litter Expenditures by Fiscal Year (FY)

​​FY 2022
FY 2021
​FY 2020
​FY 2019
​FY 2018

Resources Utilized

MDOT SHA uses a multi-pronged approach to tackle litter removal on Maryland’s roadways. A combination of resources is dedicated to the activity, including MDOT SHA maintenance crews, temporary employees, contractors, and inmate crews when available.

Illegal Dumping

Illegal dumping is the intentional discharge of debris on either public or private property. Larger, bulkier objects, such as tires, appliances, furniture, abandoned home goods, building materials, etc. are the most frequent types of illegal dumping. Safe and proper removal of these items require significant additional time, money, equipment and labor resources. The density of dump sites directly impacts SHA's ability to timely progress through the routine litter removal cycles. It can be distinguished from litter by the amount of material and the manner in which it's discarded. Litter is typically smaller pieces of trash (i.e., paper, plastic, glass, cans, illegal signs, etc.) that are discarded onto our roadways.

​In Maryland, illegal dumping is occurring in semi-isolated locations, where there is low visibility, and often during evening hours in unpermitted areas along roadways. It's common for a little dump to rapidly become acres of trash in a matter of weeks. Due to the size and bulk of illegally dumped items, it costs additional tax dollars to remove than what is allocated in the general litter budget. Illegal dumping not only negatively affects nearby constituents, whose property values can be impacted, but every taxpayer who must foot the bill of the additional expense required for removal. In addition, illegal dumping makes our roads unsightly, it has significant public health, safety, and environmental impacts.​

Operation Clean Sweep Maryland 2023

Operation Clean Sweep Maryland​ is a statewide effort to remove litter on State roads throughout Maryland. This operation enhances clean up efforts’ by conducting multiple, targeted litter blitz efforts throughout the year. Although MDOT SHA resources remove litter regularly as part of routine maintenance duties, the State Highway Administration is taking advantage of the seasonably warm winter weather and beginning significant litter removal efforts early in 2023, before the mowing season (April-October).

Additional Litter Resources

Sponsor-A-Highway Program and Adopt-A-Highway

Litter Dashboard FAQ​​

Litter Dashboard

Litter Pickup Service Request

Customers may request litter pick up services by submitting a Service Request Ticket through our online Customer Care Management System portal.