Nips constitute a third of the litter along Falmouth roads.
“An interesting finding was, on average, there are 184 nips per linear mile of roadway in Falmouth,” Falmouth Litter Reduction team member Alan Robinson reported at the Monday, July 22, board of selectmen meeting.
“Thirty-two percent of litter, one item, was nips,” Mr. Robinson said.
This figure is based on 42 litter surveys conducted throughout the town. In these surveys, a member of the litter reduction team would collect trash along a portion of roadway and conduct an inventory of discarded items. Sample sites include on Menauhant Road, Central Avenue, Route 28A, Brick Kiln Road and Old Barnstable Road.
Despite this, nips are not the most common piece of roadside litter. Food service garbage, such as take out containers, pizza boxes and candy wrappers, make up 34 percent of litter.
“It is not just nips, of course,” Mr. Robinson said. “There is a lot of other litter.”
The Falmouth Litter Reduction team prevented a number of recommendations to selectmen, both to address existing litter and prevent future littering. The group recommends placing trash receptacles at the beach year-round, as well as in high foot traffic areas like parking lots, and hiring additional seasonal and full-year personnel to collect litter from these areas.
The group also recommended trash cans in school buses. This recommendation came after meeting with local students.
“With no place to put it on the bus, they just kind of drop it there,” Mr. Robinson said.
They proposed changes to curbside collection, including replacing the open curbside recycling containers with larger containers with lids.
“Most of us have more recyclables that we do trash, and those boxes don’t cut it,” Mr. Robinson said.
Recyclables can also blow out of those boxes in high winds. For weekenders who put their bins out early, this means their discarded items can unintentionally become litter. The Falmouth Litter Reduction Team recommends the department of public works collaborate with the solid waste advisory committee to create an alternative option for weekenders looking to dispose of their trash and recyclables.
Other recommendations include installing educational signage, adding a litter management requirement to event permit applications and support the slogan of “Litter-Free Falmouth.” The litter reduction team is creating a “Litter-Free Falmouth” sticker to support this initiative.
The recommendations also address nips. The first calls for writing a letter of support placing a deposit fees on nip bottles. However, Mr. Robinson said this won’t stop people from littering.
“There is little confidence that using a nickel deposit, like they do with cans or bottles, will reduce nip littering,” he said. “Five cents isn’t going to make a difference.”
Instead, he proposed asking the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to increase the deposit to 25 cents. He said the increased fee might reduce littering all effected items by encouraging more people to collect the deposit.
The group made no recommendation regarding the ban of nips. Mr. Robinson said they will work with liquor store owners to look at alternative methods to reduce litter, and will return with a recommendation regarding the ban of nips next year.
The sale of nips has been banned in Chelsea, but the ban was challenged by local business owners. The matter is currently pending.
“I would almost say this is what we are going to do and get the fight started, because it is going to be a fight for awhile,” Selectman Douglas H. Jones said.
Barbara P. Schneider, who ran the Falmouth Litter Reduction Team’s listening session with local liquor license holders, urged caution.
“Loud and clear, I heard that banning nips was not a solution,” Ms. Schneider said. “And, if you want to look at it another way, I would ask you if you see that banning cigarettes in the town of Falmouth is a solution, because cigarette butts are our biggest problem.”
Due to the sheer number of discarded cigarettes, cigarette butts were not included in the Falmouth Litter Reduction Team’s litter survey.
Selectman Susan L. Moran said solving the problem of littering will take collaboration with other Cape towns.
“The biggest benefit would be if there is an organized, coordinated Cape-wide solution, so, for example, people don’t buy them in Mashpee and drop them in Falmouth,” Ms. Moran said. “We have the ability to do so, because we have county government, so that is another option to look at.
Selectman Douglas C. Brown added that locally, an increased fine might deter people from littering. Though challenging to catch someone in the act, he said a higher fine might stop that act from happening in the first place.
Mr. Brown thanked the Falmouth Litter Reduction Team for its efforts.
“Thank you for raising awareness,” he said. “I think awareness is the biggest thing, and will get us thinking the right way.”