Litter in Baltimore is a public nuisance that drives down property values, clogs and damages sewers, provides food for rats, and is unhealthy for the Chesapeake Bay.
Baltimore spends millions of dollars annually on litter collection, street cleaning and watershed cleanup. The city could save money and improve quality of life by more carefully targeting trash collection and litter reporting efforts.
The 2016 Abell Award for Urban Policy goes to a paper that proposes to resolve the multifaceted impacts of littering in a cost-effective manner. In “Litter-Free Baltimore: A trash collection policy framework based on spatial analysis and social media,” Ramya Ambikapathi (PhD Candidate at the Bloomberg School of Public Health) and Christopher Kelley (PhD Candidate at JHU’s Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering) call on city officials to investigate the spatial and social patterns that drive litter generation, and reform their current strategies of trash collection to better align with those patterns.
The authors recommend that the city conduct an inventory of “street cans,” add additional cans in the highest need areas, re-examine the street can emptying schedule to better meet demand, and utilize social media more broadly to engage citizens in identifying litter concerns.
The Abell Award in Urban Policy is an annual competition for the best student paper that provides a cogent analysis of a critical issue facing the City of Baltimore and proposes well-reasoned, feasible solutions. It is open to matriculated students at all Baltimore area colleges and universities. The submissions are blind-reviewed by a panel of distinguished judges. The winning paper receives a $5,000 award and is distributed to key policymakers and opinion leaders and posted on the Abell Foundation’s website.