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Litter and Garbage Nuisances

This page provides examples of how cities and counties in Washington State are addressing litter and garbage nuisances, including illegal dumping, burning yard waste, handbill regulations, and plastic bag bans.


Overview

Many cities and counties in Washington have adopted the state's Model Litter Control Act (chapter 70.93 RCW) by reference. Others have restated its provisions and have included other provisions for items such as posting of handbills, dumping of trash, spillage of vehicle content onto public roads, sweeping of litter into gutters, and the duty of merchants to keep public areas free of litter.

Some local governments have also created "Adopt-a Street" programs for litter control. See MRSC's Creating Volunteer Opportunities page.


Comprehensive Litter Provisions


Dumping Trash or Litter

The control of unlawful dumping or littering generally is handled in one of three ways. The first is to pattern ordinances to the Model Litter Control Act. RCW 70.93.060, which prohibits littering, would cover a situation where a person dumps trash or rubbish on public property or, without permission, on private property owned by another. In 1993, the state legislature decriminalized the penalty for violating the littering regulations in Ch. 70.93 RCW.

In addition to handling litter control under Ch. 70.93 RCW, some jurisdictions appear to criminalize the dumping of trash under their garbage control provisions, presumably imposing the criminal penalty assigned to any general misdemeanor.

Finally, once litter or garbage has been deposited on property, many cities require its removal by the property owner. Failure to do so may constitute a nuisance, which is subject to criminal penalty and may require abatement.


Dumping or Burning Yard Debris/Waste


Handbills

Provisions for the distribution of handbills vary little from place to place other than a slight variant in wording.


Garbage

Uncollected and improperly stored accumulations of solid wastes can cause fires, stench, and attract rodents and insects.


Plastic Bags, Styrofoam Containers, and Plastic Straws

Below are examples of local regulations restricting merchants’ use of plastic bags, single use food serviceware, and styrofoam containers.


Recommended Resources


Last Modified: October 24, 2019