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, and handbill regulations.
It is part of MRSC's series on Nuisances: Regulation and Abatement.
Many cities and counties in Washington have adopted the state's Model Litter Control Act (chapter 70A.200 RCW, formerly chapter 70.93) 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 page on Volunteer Programs and Policies.
- Anacortes Municipal Code Ch. 8.08 – Littering
- Bothell Municipal Code Ch. 8.44 – Litter Control
- Chelan County Code Ch. 4.16 – Litter Control
- Kent Municipal Code Ch. 8.04 – Litter Control
- Lakewood Municipal Code Ch. 8.32 – Litter Control
- Longview Municipal Code Ch. 7.32 – Litter Control
- Snohomish County Code Ch. 7.35 – Solid Waste Disposal
- Yakima Municipal Code Ch. 6.86 – Litter Control
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 70A.200.060, 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 chapter 70A.200 RCW.
In addition to handling litter control under chapter 70A.200 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.
- Burien Municipal Code Sec. 8.45.020(5c)(viii) – Illegal dumping and (5c) (ix) – Dumping in Waterways
- Everett Municipal Code Ch. 10.70 – Offensive Littering - Depositing any rubbish, trash, garbage, debris or other refuse; draining contaminated source onto another land without permission
- Mercer Island Municipal Code:
- Snohomish County Code Sec. 7.35.120 – Unlawful Disposal of Solid Waste
- Auburn Municipal Code Sec. 8.08.130 A – Disposal Restrictions Generally
- Eatonville Municipal Code Sec. 8.04.080 – Outdoor Dumping and Burning
- Lake Forest Park Municipal Code Sec. 8.04.050 – Unlawful Disposal of Municipal Solid Waste, Recyclables, Yard Waste and Bulky Yard Waste
- Mountlake Terrace Municipal Code Sec. 13.10.050 – Unlawful Acts
- Pierce County Planning and Public Works: Illegal Dumping – Description of issue, links to code provisions, and where to obtain assistance
Provisions for the distribution of handbills vary little from place to place other than a slight variant in wording.
- Bellingham Municipal Code Sec. 10.60.150-.190 – Covers distributing handbills in public, placing on vehicle, deposit on vacant property, distribution on posted premises, and distribution on private premise prohibited unless handed directly, or placed securely.
- Chelan Municipal Code Sec. 8.44.180-.220 – Litter Control - Handbills
- Edmonds Municipal Code Sec. 6.40.120-.160 – Litter Control - Handbills
- Everett Municipal Code Ch. 9.48 – Handbills - Distribution Near Schools
- Lewis County Code Sec. 8.30.060 – Litter Control - Handbills - Provides exemption for exemption for mail and newspapers
- Skagit County Code Sec. 9.41.170 – Solicitation in County Parks - requires permission to distribute or post any handbills, circulars, or signs
Uncollected and improperly stored accumulations of solid wastes can cause fires, stench, and attract rodents and insects.
- Bellingham Municipal Code Sec. 9.12.030 - Deposit of Garbage and Refuse
- Enumclaw Municipal Code Sec. 8.12.230 - Unlawful to Throw, Place or Scatter Garbage
- WA Department of Ecology: Preventing and Picking Up Litter – Information about state litter laws, plus Community Litter Cleanup grant opportunities for local governments