2019 was the seventeenth consecutive year of volunteer action to control trash on the Foxcroft Road. The author conducts this survey as a single observer. The numbers here noted are understated but true. In 2019 there was a total of 1027 individual pieces of trash. For the seventeen years, the total is 17,825.
To aid those first time readers and as a reminder to past readers of this column, the course of trash collection is a 4.6 mile route of dirt and hard road that includes portions of the Polecat Hill Rd. (Rt. 696), the Foxcroft Rd. (Rt. 626), the Snake Hill Rd. (Rt. 744), and the Millville Rd. (Rt. 743).
In conclusion the stand out contributors to our road trash study should be acknowledged. They are ranked by single numbers and percentages of total trash:
1. AB InBev: 121 (12%)
2. Plastic and Paper Bags: 83 (8%)
3. McDonald’s: 72 (7%)
4. Generic Cups and Bottles: 68(7%)
5. Pepsico: 54 ( 5%)
6. Paper Napkins: 45 (4%)
7. Miller/Coor’s: 32 (3%)
8. Coca-Cola: 31 ( 3%)
9. 7-Eleven: 19 (2%)
10. Car Parts: 15 (1%)
In the race to the bottom AB InBev (12%) followed by other American staples, McDonald’s (7%), Pepsico (5%), Miller/Coors (3%), Coca Cola (3%), and Seven-Eleven (2%) are the standout contributors. Of the other contributors, plastic and paper bags (8%), generic cups and bottles (7%), paper napkins (4%), only car parts (1%) can really be classified as “accidental.” The tobacco category (3%) has dropped precipitously, down from 9% in 2012, in the last few years. Presumably the drop is due to our national government’s regulation of the tobacco industry by enforced publication of the untoward effects of tobacco addiction. By and large the other corporate entities cited above concern themselves primarily with shareholder value and public image first, and the ambience of clean roads is down the list.
On 30 October 2019 Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsico pledged $100 million to capture more PET bottles with a major recycling group. Since bans on single use plastic products are becoming more evident at the state level and abroad, one wonders if this recent recycling effort is actually a diversionary tactic, whilst the bottling industry ploughs ahead by employing hordes of lobbyists to thwart any threat of regulatory legislation. According to The Recycling Institute, countries with strong recycling and container deposit laws have recycling rates as high as 80%, whereas the U.S. rate for recycling PET bottles in 2017 was 29%.
The road trash problem is much like global warming in that anyone counting the actual numbers should be concerned. Our national leadership acknowledges global warming as a “Chinese hoax,” and, therefore, can take a pass on regulation of exorbitantly profitable corporations. Presumably to them, global warming and road trash will just wither away, not unlike the Marxist state. Maybe the reason Greta Thunberg has been nominated for a Nobel prize, while the covetous Don Trump’s entreaties go unanswered, is the former’s responsible public position on the health of our planet.
On the local scene Keep Loudoun Beautiful (KLB) has volunteers to help clean streets and open space. KLB can be reached at 703-475-0202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.