City employs litter prevention efforts to protect Bay

September 24, 2019

Litter has long been recognized as a significant source of pollution in the San Francisco Bay. Trash and litter commonly winds up in the Bay as it gets washed down drainage systems that divert water away from streets and parking lots. To help mitigate this issue, the City of Hayward employs extensive litter prevention and reduction efforts. 

One of the largest litter reduction mechanisms employed by the City can be found in its storm water system. The Hayward stormwater system consists of approximately 3,000 storm drains and hundreds of miles of pipes, culverts, and creeks that all lead to the Bay. The system prevents flooding during the rainy season, but it is also being improved to prevent litter from washing into open waters with hundreds of “trash capture devices.” These devices are installed throughout the system, and filter out items as small as a cigarette butt to prevent them from traveling into the Bay. 

Other litter reduction efforts include the monthly Beautification Events hosted by The Keep Hayward Clean & Green Task Force, the litter pick up services offered by the Hayward Downtown Streets Team, and the community driven Adopt-a-Block Program

Litter collection is critical but investigating ways to address the primary sources of litter is an equally important piece of the City’s litter abatement efforts. A study conducted in 2011 found that 67% of the litter washing into the Bay consisted of single-use food ware items, including cups, straws, and food wrappers. To this day, single use food ware remains a major pollutant both on land and in the Bay. To address this, the City’s Environmental Services Division is currently reaching out to local food service businesses to learn more about their relationship to single-use disposable food ware, and to identify opportunities to reduce this source of litter.  

Residents can help protect Hayward streets, and the Bay, by participating in one of the programs mentioned above, or encouraging their favorite Hayward restaurant to contribute to the conversation by taking this brief single-use food ware survey for business owners and managers. For questions about the survey, please contact the Environmental Services Division at