An average 83 bags of litter are collected on each mile of motorway every year, latest statistics show.
The data, released by Highways England, which manages around 225 miles of motorway in the East Midlands, shows that it costs around £40 per bag to clean up, on top of the hours of congestion when litter causes incidents.
Highways England revealed more than 150,000 sacks of litter are collected by its contractors every year - equal to 411 bags every day. The cost of each bag is roughly the same as fixing a pothole.
The organisation states that hundreds of lives are put at risk in collisions caused by items in the carriageway or items that land on windscreens, while thousands of punctures are caused by sharp items.
Highways England claims its workers put their lives at risk when picking up litter from the roadside and reminded people that a plastic bottle takes 450 years to biodegrade. Litter also causes a threat to wildlife and can lead to flooding if drains become blocked.
The organisation’s customer service director Melanie Clarke said: “Cleaning motorways is expensive and time-consuming, and it is the innocent drivers who suffer.
“The money needed to clear litter comes out of their pockets and they are the ones who suffer the consequences if an item of litter causes a puncture, or a collision which closes a carriageway.
“The statistics show what a tax littering imposes on drivers who would not dream of such behaviour.
“We constantly have teams out cleaning our roads.
“We’re encouraging all road users to dispose of their litter properly and improve the experience of all drivers who use our roads.”
For more on the work Highways England does, visit www.gov.uk/government/organisations/highways-england