The North Carolina Department of Transportation says it has set an annual record for the amount of trash collected along state roads and highways — and the year isn’t over yet. The News & Observer reported Wednesday that more than 11 million pounds of litter have been picked up as of Jan. 1. The previous record was 10.5 million in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic led volunteer cleanup efforts to be canceled in 2020. Financial issues also caused the department to reduce roadside maintenance efforts. The department prioritized litter cleanup this year after receiving complaints from the public. It has spent $15.8 million on trash pickup so far.