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State Employees Honored for Developing Pennsylvania's Litter Action Plan

05/19/2022

Harrisburg, PA – At a ceremony tomorrow, Governor Tom Wolf will present a group of employees from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with Governor's Awards for Excellence, in recognition of their efforts to develop the first-ever Pennsylvania Litter Action Plan.

Through coordination with over 100 stakeholders, the employees spearheaded the development of an actionable plan with the goal to shift the focus of Pennsylvania's response to litter from cleanup to prevention. The plan includes resources and suggestions for the General Assembly, state agencies, local governments, and the public.

The honorees are:

  • Jessica Shirley, former Policy Director, DEP;
  • Kate Cole, Policy Director, DEP;
  • Natasha Fackler, former Policy Director, PennDOT; and
  • Emily Watts, former Executive Policy Specialist, PennDOT.

PennDOT spends roughly $14 million each year on litter cleanup statewide, and DEP has funded "Pick Up Pennsylvania" community litter cleanups and illegal dump site cleanups for over two decades, supporting volunteers in removing many tons of trash from the land and waters. 

"It's clear that in order to truly see less litter in Pennsylvania, we need to focus on getting people not to litter in the first place," said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. "The Litter Action Plan provides real solutions that can be implemented at the state, local, and individual level to help make a cleaner Pennsylvania for all of us. I'm so proud of the work that this team has done to develop this plan."

"This award is very well deserved and represents the work that this team has done to keep the Keystone State litter free," said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. "This plan is needed because of the growing – and frankly disgusting – problem of litter polluting our lands and waters. The Litter Action Plan sets us on a path to a cleaner, more beautiful Pennsylvania."

The persistence of littering prompted PennDOT and DEP to partner with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful to conduct the first comprehensive state study to inform development of the Litter Action Plan, with a focus on changing littering behavior.

"It is my privilege to congratulate the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for their vital and mission-based work to develop the state's first-ever Litter Action Plan," said Shannon Reiter, President of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. "The plan's blueprint for implementing preventive measures and behavior changing strategies to reduce littering in Pennsylvania will benefit and positively impact the health, safety and beauty of whole communities all across the Commonwealth."

DEP identifies many ways Pennsylvanians can be anti-litter at www.dep.pa.gov/litter. PennDOT provides litter information and many additional litter cleanup volunteer opportunities, including Adopt-A-Highway, Litter Brigades, and more on its Roadside Beautification page.

The Governor's Awards for Excellence recognize exemplary job performance or service that reflects initiative, leadership, innovation and increased efficiency. The PennDOT and DEP team was among 50 employees from 12 state agencies honored by Governor Wolf at a ceremony today for exceptional accomplishments in 2021.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Alexis Campbell, PennDOT, 717-783-8800 or alecampbel@pa.gov;
Jamar Thrasher, DEP, 717-783-1323, jthrasher@pa.gov

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