Steinbach has come out tops in North America in an annual litter audit commissioned by the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association. Executive Director Ken Friesen says the rate of littering for empty beverage containers in Steinbach has dropped 69 per cent since they started doing the audit in the city in 2013.

"Every year, we hire third party litter audit firms to come and measure the litter in six different cities in Manitoba and Steinbach has again way outshone every other place, not only in Manitoba, but in North America, which is remarkable. The litter audit people say this is by far, not only terms of beverage containers, but in terms of other litter, the cleanest city that they've audited in North America."

Friesen says the audit firms use a GIS mapping system to randomly select sites in each of the cities. They then lay out a rectangle, which is four metres by two metres, and pick up every piece of litter, cigarette butts and anything that's litter in that area. And he says, in a place like Steinbach, they might do 100 of these sites to get a good sampling from across the community. Friesen adds it's a very scientific approach.

He has some thoughts as to what sets Steinbach apart in being such a clean city.

"It's probably a combination of things. We've got a really good Public Works department that keeps bins serviced so bins are not overflowing and people tend to use them more and not litter. Of course, our recycling bins play a huge role. But I think there has to be something more to have that kind of a remarkable difference and I think it's a sense of responsibility, a sense of people caring for their own community that is different here."

He notes another factor is the annual pick-up and walk clean-up campaign in spring which is a huge educational upside.

"When youth have to go up and pick up litter for a couple or hours, they're more conscious of how they behave themselves and I think that has tremendous impact as well."

Friesen says the two cents per container that all of us pay at the store when buying beverages is what funds the Recycle Everywhere program including the bins, the recycling of containers and all the promotion. And, he adds, one of the huge benefits of that campaign is the reduction in litter.