A literature review revealed different interventions used in reducing the amount of litter at a Virginia shopping mall. A pilot program was then designed to investigate the effect of proximity on separation of litter into appropriate receptacles. Therefore, three ashtrays were placed at different distances from the nearest trash can. While one ashtray was 100 feet from the nearest garbage receptacle, another was placed immediately adjacent to the can. Finally, a special combination ash tray/garbage can was also used. It was anticipated that ashtrays in close proximity to trash receptacles would cause shoppers to separate refuse into the correct containers. Each day during the 48 day program, the number of appropriate and inappropriate items placed in each ashtray was counted.
The greatest amount of litter separation occurred in the combination astray/garbage can receptacle. On average, 22.19 appropriate items and only 2.64 inappropriate items were deposited. In contrast, the ashtray 100 feet from the nearest trash can accumulated 3.17 appropriate and 16.33 inappropriate items daily. When the ashtray was immediately adjacent to the trash can, the number of appropriate and inappropriate items was approximately equal.