Litter crews work with fewer crews to clean up East Tenn. roads

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KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- East Tennessee drivers may see many things on the road--mountains, scenery and...trash?

"There's always cups and litter everywhere," Lauren Dlugach said.

The heaps of trash pile up even higher during the winter, officials told Local 8 News. That's where the Knox County litter crew comes in.

"We get them cleaned, and two weeks later it's time to clean them again it seems like," Ray Shular with Knox County Litter Pickup said. "At this point, I don't see any problem with job security."

Shular has been fighting the problem with a smaller staff than he's used to. A change in Tennessee DUI law in 2016 no longer required offenders to work 24 hours with the Knox County Litter Pickup. Instead, offenders spend 48 hours in jail as opposed to the previous 24.

"They lost that manpower and the ability to pick up more litter," Alanna McKissack, Executive Director of Keep Knoxville Beautiful, said.

Before the law change, the crew would use up to 10 people a day for help--now, they can only rely on those hired.

Knox County takes litter complaints online, and what used to take only a couple of days to clean can now take much longer.

"Now, it's taking longer, it's taking weeks and even a month to get caught up," Ashley Kidwell with Knox County Litter Pickup said.

The wait has created a backlog crews said can be seen on the side of the road.

"Lots of people litter because they see the litter on the ground already," McKissack said.

Keep Knoxville Beautiful is one organization working to curb the problem. More than 1,000 volunteers signed up in the past year to change a mindset, so litter crews can help make progress on the mess.

For more information on Knox County litter crews and how to report litter in your area, visit the Knox County website.