You’ve seen the TV commercials saying “there ain’t no lower class than Tennessee trash.”
Hamblen County Sheriff Esco Jarnagin wants to make it clear that littering in Hamblen County is unacceptable.
“In one year, more than a million pounds of garbage, litter, old tires, roofing shingles and discarded items are picked up from your roadways,” Jarnigan said. “It’s ridiculous and it’s an important issue that needs to be addressed.”
Jarnagin said that Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office litter crews pick up roadways as conditions allow. Due to conditions this winter, crews have not been able to pick up garbage and it has grown to an eyesore stage.
“When hundreds of people litter daily, don’t expect the litter crews to keep up,” Jarnagin said.
The sheriff has instructed his captain of operations to instruct officers to give tickets as people are caught littering.
“The sad thing is that we shouldn’t have this problem,” Jarnagin said. “We’re going to address it aggressively, going to give citations and people had better be accountable for their trash.”
Jarnagin cited studies that note how long it takes for certain materials to decompose to their original state.
According to the down to earth materials website, decomposition rates of common trash items are as follows:
• Plastic bottles: 70-450 years
• Plastic bag: 500-1000 years
• Tin can: around 50 years
• Leather shoes: 25-40 years
• Thread: 3-4 months
• Cotton: 1-5 months
• Rope: 3-14 months
• Cigarette: 1-12 years
• Milk packet (tetra) covers and drink packets: 5 years
• Nylon clothes: 30-40 years
• Sanitary napkins and children’s diapers: 500-800 years
• Glass bottles: 1,000,000 years
• Hairspray bottle: 200-500 years
• Fishing line: 600 years.
• Glass bottle; 1-2 million years
• Aluminum can: 200 years
• Tires: 2,000 years
“There have been studies done when disposed by nature, it takes 20-30 years to dispose of Styrofoam containers,” Jarnagin said. “Even with a cigarette butt, it takes forever for a cigarette filter to revert to a natural state.
“We need a joint effort from everybody. People are littering out of disrespect. We’ve got to do better,” he said.
If you see someone litter, call Hamblen County Dispatch at 423-585-2701. Your tip will remain anonymous.
“Together, we will make a difference,” Jarnigan said.