Take action to clean up Sussex roadways

February 17, 2023

Several letters in this newspaper have described in detail the amount of trash on some roads in the Cape Region. Trash is an ongoing problem. Take a ride, particularly on the county’s back roads, and you’ll see fast-food wrappers, bags and cups, and even find full bags of trash, tires, and old furniture and appliances pitched out along the roads.

A 2018 study conducted by the state found 6,000 pieces of litter per mile on every mile of Delaware roadway surveyed. Assuredly some of those roads were in Sussex County.

Topping the trash list were cigarette butts, plastic bags, cans and glass bottles. The sad fact is that cans and glass bottles can be recycled and should never be thrown out a vehicle window. The good news is that there should be fewer single-use plastic bags on roadways since they are now banned in the state.

Citizens can do more than complain about trash. They can take action by reporting trashy roads to Delaware Department of Transportation or Sussex County. Groups can also join the Adopt-a-Highway program and take matters into their own hands. Contrary to what some people might think, action is being taken to address the litter problem.

Since the launch of the Keep DE Litter Free campaign in 2019, DelDOT employees, Adopt-a-Highway groups and the Department of Correction inmate work program have collected more than 216,000 bags of trash. In 2022, more than 59,000 bags of trash were collected.

Since 2018, Sussex County has had an ongoing memorandum of understanding with DelDOT and the Department of Correction to pick up trash. Sussex County has budgeted funds to cover the overtime costs associated with staff assigned to inmate trash collection crews.

Although Sussex County government has no jurisdiction over roads or littering, officials responded to ongoing complaints by providing a way to address conditions on roadways.

On average, 4,000 bags of trash a year have been collected through the county program.

Yet the problem persists. As long as some people have no regard for the environment, trash will continue to be a problem. Even so, citizens in the county can make a difference by reporting what they see.

Report litter

• Call 302-855-1111 or email

• Adopt-a-Highway:


  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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