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More than 12,700 tons of trash cleared from state roadsides during first year of Clean California

Multiyear initiative creates hundreds of jobs while beautifying communities statewide

SACRAMENTO – Enough trash to fill trash bags lining the entire California coastline twice over. That’s how much trash has been removed in the first year of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Clean California initiative.

In just the first 12 months since the $1.1 billion multiyear cleanup effort began last July, Clean California has removed 12,700 tons of trash – which would fill enough trash bags to line the California coastline two times – from California’s roadways, funded 231 projects to revitalize underserved communities, and created nearly 1,500 jobs – with thousands more expected in the coming years.

“It’s simple: all Californians deserve clean streets. That’s why we’re cleaning up California like never before in our state’s history,” said Governor Newsom. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done in just one year to make the Golden State a cleaner, safer place to call home – and we’re just getting started.”


Governor Gavin Newsom announced the Clean California initiative on May 11, 2021, at a cleanup event in in Los Angeles (top). Before and after images show the impact of Clean California in Orange County (bottom).

California roadsides have less trash, underserved communities statewide are receiving beautification and safety upgrades, and hundreds more Californians have stable jobs in just the first year of Clean California.

“Clean California is helping communities throughout the state break the destructive cycle of litter and create public spaces we can all take pride in,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares. “Thanks to Governor Newsom’s vision, California is cleaner, communities are addressing blight, and hundreds more of our fellow Californians have dependable work. I cannot wait to see what we can accomplish together in Year 2.”

First-year highlights of Clean California include:

  • Litter Cleanup – Caltrans collected more than 756,000 cubic yards (12,700 tons) of litter from the state highway system – which would fill enough trash bags to line the entire California coastline two times. This is a 183 percent increase in litter removal compared to 2020, when Caltrans collected 267,000 cubic yards of trash.
  • Job Creation – Caltrans hired more than 700 new team members as part of Clean California, including 470 maintenance positions to collect litter and remove graffiti. Forty-five of these maintenance workers have already earned promotions within the department. Caltrans also expanded its partnership with the Butte County Office of Education Back 2 Work program, adding 82 crews in counties throughout California. The $127 million contract has already created 760 jobs and will fund more than 4,000 positions that provide income and job training to Californians who have experienced barriers to employment, such as homelessness, addiction and incarceration. Clean California grant-funded projects (see below) are estimated to create another 7,200 jobs.
  • State Beautification Projects – 126 beautification projects with a total budget of $312 million are underway to transform and connect communities along the state highway system. Nearly all the projects – 98 percent – will benefit underserved communities. Humboldt County residents and visitors are already enjoying the first completed project, a new parklet along the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge near State Route 255.
  • Local Grant Projects – Nearly $300 million in Clean California grants is funding 105 local projects statewide to remove litter and transform public spaces with community markers and public art in underserved communities.
  • Adopt-A-Highway Program – Clean California created a $250 monthly volunteer incentive stipend through the Adopt-A-Highway Program, increasing highway adoptions by more than 800 in a matter of months.
  • Dump Day Events – Nearly 150 free events throughout the state allowed the public to safely dispose of more than 50,000 cubic yards of litter, including more than 15,400 tires and 4,100 mattresses.

Click here for a video featuring highlights from the first year of Clean California.

Caltrans recently cut the ribbon at the first Clean California-funded project. Formerly a site of frequent
illegal dumping (top), the Vance Avenue Parklet project created a recreational area along the
Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge (bottom).

In the coming year, Caltrans looks to continue the momentum by removing 1.2 million cubic yards of trash from the state highway system – 60 percent more than the first year. For more information, visit CleanCA.com.

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