Litter Institute Expands LSU’s Efforts to Clean Up Our Neighborhoods, Watersheds, and Shorelines
November 06, 2023
The announcement in October 2023 of a new LSU Litter Institute helps solidify the university as a key partner in addressing the statewide and worldwide challenge of removing litter and debris from our roadways, waterways, and shorelines.
With funding from the Louisiana Legislature, the LSU Litter Institute will build on the work of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ 2022 task force on statewide litter abatement and beautification.
“Since litter, debris and illegal dumping are caused by both natural disasters and human behavior, it takes a broad and interdisciplinary research approach to address them,” said Robert Twilley, vice president of the Office of Research & Economic Development at LSU. “The LSU Litter Institute will bring together expertise in social studies, economics, education, law, public administration, engineering, environmental science, nonprofit management and more to solve this global problem.”
LSU researchers are already engaged in multiple projects to address litter, including:
- Jeff Kuehny, director of LSU AgCenter’s Botanic Gardens at Burden, a 400-acre research experiment station and home of the LSU Rural Life Museum, has partnered with the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, Southern University and the Louisiana Stormwater Coalition and received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Environmental Quality to remediate litter in neighborhoods and watersheds. The effort involves community engagement, demonstration sites for litter catchment equipment, including at Capitol Lake, and the development of a statewide stormwater litter management manual.
- Louisiana Sea Grant has support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for several litter abatement projects, including to minimize plastic waste at carnival parades and reduce waterborne litter and microplastics in rivers and coastal environments.
- Mark Benfield, professor in the Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences in the LSU College of the Coast & Environment, has spent the past decade studying plastic pollution while conducting surveys of microplastics in the Mississippi River and northern Gulf of Mexico. He has also led citizen science projects in Baton Rouge and in cities around the world to study pollution from the COVID pandemic and better understand sources of litter to protect communities and the environment.