Press Release

Background Information: "The National Summit on Building Clean, Livable Cities"

In the spring of 1998, the U.S. Conference of Mayors established a partnership with Keep America Beautiful (KAB) to analyze the impacts of litter and other types of environmental blight in urban areas and develop new strategies for preventing it. KAB is a nonprofit organization with nearly 500 community-based affiliates nationwide that help support local litter prevention programs and educational outreach.

This partnership’s objectives are to raise awareness of litter and its impacts, identify effective solutions and share best practices for reducing urban blight. Its activities include research about litter prevention programs through surveys and public forums, development of new measurement tools, support for the Houston pilot project, and the staging of this National Summit to bring attention to the issue.

The National Summit will advance the efforts of cities nationwide by providing a forum for leaders to share ideas and innovations. The Summit will feature a Best Practices Guide, released through the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Best Practices Center. The guide details the efforts of several city programs and partnerships who have taken steps to reduce litter and illegal dumping. To compile the guide, the Urban Litter Partnership interviewed cities that are members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and/or Keep America Beautiful and have more than 100,000 population.

The Best Practices Center is the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ central clearinghouse for solutions to problems and ideas for better services. Through the Center, mayors can exchange information on projects and on approaches to delivering services that they find to be particularly effective in their cities. As the information exchange grows, the Urban Litter Partnership expects to continue to add new city programs and expand the information network on this issue.

From the Best Practices Guide, the Urban Litter Partnership has identified several program components that contribute to success, including the following:

  • A strong, broad based, organizational structure allows successful programs to have representation and input from all the segments of the community. Whether operating as a citywide task force, an independent nonprofit organization in concert with the city administration, or as a business improvement district, initiatives benefit from a strong partnership among the public, private and civic sectors.
  • Public education and communication efforts are a mainstay of successful litter prevention initiatives. Whether directed toward the general public, school children or a specific target audience, strong public education that compliments the announcement of new ordinances, procedures, new routes, recycling program changes or automated services is a key ingredient to litter prevention and management.
  • Reward/recognition programs provide the incentive for individuals, groups and/or organizations to maintain or expand their positive behaviors and actions.
  • Enforcement programs are necessary for those who refuse to comply with local ordinances and laws. Most enforcement initiatives utilize educational interventions and warnings prior to the issuance of citations.
  • Litter Measurement tools provide an opportunity to identify problems, establish baselines and track trends over time. Armed with such knowledge, decision makers can deploy personnel and other resources in the most efficient manner.