NewsLocal News


Brown County sees increase in pandemic garbage disposal as trash lines highways 'every quarter-mile'

Posted at 7:06 PM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 20:06:32-04

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (NBC 26) -- When Mark Walter drove on local highways a few months ago, all he saw was snow.

When he drives today, all he sees is trash.

"Probably every quarter-mile or so, you'll see a plastic bag in a fence or a tree or a curb," Walter said. "We get snow, it covers up stuff that's been blown out of vehicles or that people have thrown out into the curb or whatever."

Walter works at a Green Bay recycling facility as the Brown County Resource Recovery Business Development Manager. He said it's snow that shows the problem, but not what causes it.

Because of the pandemic, he says people actually generated more waste over the course of the past year. Walter believes it might be the reason why he's seeing mass numbers of certain types of trash, such as plastic bags, on the side of the roads.

"[More waste is] Presumably because people are staying at home, doing more cooking at home, more projects at home," Walter said. "We're seeing a lot more plastic bags and unfortunately one of the side effects of that is that they're also getting blown out into the sides of the road driving down the highway."

Mark Kantola, the WisDOT Northeast Region Communications Manager, says locals can help with the Adopt-A-Highway program.

"When the snow melts, it's disappointing to see all the trash people throw out over the winter," Kantola said. "Luckily, we have these groups that volunteer their time to get out there and clean for us starting April 1."

While highways can be cleaned, Walter says the real solution is creating less waste.

"The more you can do to reduce that amount of packaging from what you buy, the better it benefits the environment as a whole, society as a whole," he said.