Litter's a big problem. For example The Missouri Department of Transportation spent $6.8 million dollars cleaning up litter in 2017. And I'm sure you've seen the pictures of all the groups cleaning up Warrensburg right now during "Clean the Burg". I imagine litter is an issue around fast food joints too. Well one fast food franchise owner has an idea to stop litterbugs in their tracks.

A McDonald's Franchisee near North Norfolk in the United Kingdom is considering using a license plate camera at one of his locations to stop littering. According to the North Norfolk News, here's how the system will work.

Under the idea, the number plates of vehicles at the drive through would be scanned and automatically printed on the customers' receipts, meaning it could be identified if it was thrown away along with discarded packaging.

Surprisingly, the McDonald's Franchisee told the newspaper that the concept had been tried before, and had some challenges. Mostly it can be difficult to tell if someone purposely littered. Or whether the garbage blew out of someone's window. In fact the franchisee told the paper the biggest littering problem at one of his stores isn't human at all. It's seagulls pulling rubbish out of his garbage bins looking for food.

It's a genius solution to a problem, but could it really work? In the States I think we'd have privacy issues with it. It's odd to say that while we're freely posting pictures of our COVID-19 vaccination cards on Facebook and letting various devices eavesdrop on our conversations so we can talk to text or tell Alexa to turn off the TV. But that could be an issue.

The second issue, the more practical one, is the issue the franchisee brought up. How can you tell if someone was littering on purpose or not? I suppose if you find the McDonald's bag with a bunch of cigarette butts, some empty soda bottles, and more you could make a pretty good assumption that the littering was on-purpose. But still, I don't see MoDOT sending anyone a bill because they had to pick up fast food trash that tracks back to someone.

The practical thing we can all do to keep West Central Missouri clean: Don't throw that fast food garbage, that cigarette butt, the empty soda can out your window. In fact don't throw anything out of your car window. Throw it in the garbage at home, at work, at the gas station when you're filling up your tank. As Woodsy Owl once said, "Give a hoot! Don't pollute."

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