First phase of local litter study highlights prevalence of plastics

July 26, 2022

Pictured above is a word-cloud showing the diversity of litter observed during the study, with the larger text indicating a higher rate of observation and the smaller text indicating a lower rate of observation. Note the prominence of cigarette butts, bottle caps, bottles, cups, straws, and wrappers.

Litterati, the data science company currently collecting and cataloguing Hayward’s litter, recently completed the first phase of its four-phase litter study.  

During Spring 2022, a team of trained Hayward residents surveyed approximately 36.5 miles across various regions of Hayward as part of Litterati’s “City Fingerprint Project.” Participants observed 17,000 pieces of litter at an average rate of 495 pieces per mile. The most common objects recorded were cigarette butts (2,600+) and bottlecaps (700+). The most common material found was plastic, which made up more than 40 percent of all catalogued litter, followed by paper at 33 percent.

Single use plastic pollution is a wide-spread issue, prompting recent State initiatives like Assembly Bill 1276, which requires that California restaurants provide single use food ware only at the customers’ request, and Senate Bill 54, which Governor Gavin Newsom signed just last month, and will require all packaging in California to be recyclable or compostable by 2032. SB 54 goes further than legislation in any other state toward cutting plastic production at the source and supporting the waste-free economy necessary to address the climate crisis.

Litterati will conduct three more data collection phases this Summer, Fall, and Winter, and its findings will be used to identify litter hot spots and inform future policies around local litter prevention. For more information about the City Fingerprint Project and Litterati, visit

Want to help address litter in Hayward? Sign up for the City’s Adopt a Block Program to "adopt" an area and commit to keeping it litter-free for two years, or join the Keep Hayward Clean & Green Task Force for their monthly neighborhood clean-ups. Learn more here.