40.          LITTER

All waste material including but not limited to disposable packages or containers thrown or deposited as prohibited and solid waste that is illegally dumped, but not including the wastes of primary process of mining, logging, sawmilling, farming or manufacturing.

 

 

40.1        INTRODUCTION

This chapter of the Douglas County Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan (DCCSWMP) outlines the regulatory framework overseeing litter, discusses the existing conditions and programs within the Regional Planning Area (RPA), establishes objectives to meet the existing and projected needs, identifies alternatives, and recommends actions for achieving the established objectives.

 

 

40.2        REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

 

40.2.1     Federal Requirements

Senate Bill 156 (Act Number 148) consolidates all federal litter laws and increases fines for violating those laws. Under this regulation the following categories have been established:

 

-                    there is an inference that litter thrown from a vehicle, boat, or conveyance (except buses and large passenger vehicle) was disposed of by the driver;

-                    there is an inference or presumption that a person whose name appears on any item of litter is responsible for the disposal of that litter;

-                    all community service must be served in a litter abatement work program;

-                    law enforcement officers do not have to be present at the time of the offense if evidence establishes that the defendant has committed the offense;

-                    litter does not include agricultural products en route from the harvest or collection site to a processing or market site if reasonable measures are taken to prevent the product from leaving the transporting vehicle;

-                    litter does not include recyclable cardboard being transported in compressed bundles to processing facilities.

 

40.2.2        State Requirements

Under RCW 47.40.100, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is to establish a statewide adopt-a-highway program. The purpose of this program is to provide volunteers and businesses an opportunity to contribute to a cleaner environment, enhanced roadsides, and protection of wildlife habitats.

 

Under Chapter 70.93 RCW, the Department of Ecology (DOE) is authorizes to conduct a permanent and continuous program to control and remove litter from this state. Additionally, the DOE is to increase public awareness of the need for waste reduction, recycling and litter control.

 

Under RCW 70.93.097, each county or city with a staffed transfer station or landfill in its jurisdiction shall adopt an ordinance to reduce litter from vehicles. The ordinance shall require the operator of a vehicle transporting solid waste to a staffed transfer station or landfill to secure or cover the vehicle's waste in a manner that will prevent spillage. A vehicle transporting sand, dirt, or gravel in compliance with the provisions of RCW 46.61.655 shall not be required to secure or cover a load pursuant to ordinances adopted under this section.

 

40.2.3        Local Requirements

 

Douglas County

Within Douglas County no person shall throw, drop, deposit, discard or otherwise dispose of litter upon any highway or any other public place within the county or upon a private residence or other private property not owned by him/her, or in any waters within the county whether from a vehicle, watercraft, aircraft or otherwise except:

 

-                    when such property is designated by the state or any of its agencies or the county for the disposal of solid waste, and such person is authorized by the appropriate permitting authority to so use such property;

-                    into a litter receptacle or other container in such a manner that the litter will be prevented from being carried away or deposited by the elements upon any highway, public place, private residence or other private property.

 

Additionally, within Douglas County all persons owning or occupying a place of business shall not deposit on any highway, in any highway drainage ditch, or other public place the accumulation of litter from any building or parking lot or from any public sidewalk or driveway. Any owner or person in control of any private residence or other private property shall at all times maintain the premises free of litter that pose a risk to public health and safety, the environment or create a nuisance.

 

 

40.3        EXISTING CONDITIONS

 

40.3.1     Washington State Department of Transportation

The WSDOT has an established adopt-a-highway program within the RPA. Organizations, businesses, groups and individuals have registered with the department for specific sections of state highway. Registered organizations, businesses, groups and individuals are provided by the WSDOT with litter bags to pick up their section of state highway. Once the organization, business, group or individuals have picked up their section of state highway the WSDOT picks up the filled litter bags and disposes of them.

 

40.3.2     Washington State Department of Ecology

The DOE has an established summer youth litter control program within the RPA. The Department of Ecology Youth Corps (EYC) program utilizes local youth, ages 14 to 17, to picks up roadside litter from interstate and state highways. Typically, about 174 roadside miles are picked up each summer with the major emphasis placed on State Highways 2, 17, 28, 97 and 174.

 

40.3.3     Douglas County

A Countywide Litter Control Program (LCP) has been in place since 1998 within the RPA. In cooperation with the Douglas County District Court Probation Office (DCPO), jail trustees are utilized throughout the county to pick up litter on county and municipal roadways, trails, parks and properties. Each participating jurisdiction within the RPA submits litter projects that they would like to see picked up and at what frequency. The Douglas County Solid Waste Program Office (DCSWPO) then puts together a schedule and contracts with the DCPO to implement the schedule. The LCP runs from March through October and covers the entire county. Typically, between 35 and 40 projects are undertaken each year, with about 400 roadside miles picked up. On average approximately 49,000 pounds of litter, 135 cubic yards of trash and 34,000 pounds of recyclables are pick up annually.

 

Table 40-1   Quantity of Litter Collected within the RPA

 

Source

1998

1999

2000

Litter

40,040

28,910

29,686

Illegal Dumping

18,928

11,963

11,513

Recyclables

13,832

8,971

11,790

 

72,800

49,844

52,989

Source: Bill Tinney II

 

Figure 40-1  Distribution of Litter Collected in 1999

 

 

Source: Bill Tinney II

 

 

40.4        OBJECTIVES

 

40.4.1     Ensure that Litter is Properly Managed

With it determined that littering is primarily a learned behavior, it is very important that individuals are educated as to the benefits of not littering and the consequences of littering. In order to properly manage and control littering it will be necessary to identify the true costs of controlling, collecting and disposing of litter. Once the true costs are known, individuals may be educated as to what it is costing them to correct another's or their behavior.

 

40.4.2     Ensure Compliance with all Federal, State and Local Regulations

With federal, state and local regulations requiring individuals not to litter, it is important that individuals who do litter be properly educated. Failure of an individual to properly manage their litter can result in substantial penalties, fines and corrective actions.

 

40.4.3     Ensure that Programs Reflect Local Conditions

With the tendency of regulatory agencies to have a one-size fits all approach, it is imperative that all programs be locally supported and accepted. Because of the rural character of Douglas County and its cities and towns all programs should reflect conditions that exist locally and not be driven by what the DOE deems as efficient or cost effective.

 

40.4.4        Deter Illegal Littering

With local regulations requiring individuals not to litter, it is very important that all agencies with authority work together in order to manage and control this problem. The political, legal, enforcement and compliance bodies within the RPA must chose to address the problem if anything is to be accomplished.

 

40.4.5     Establish a Litter Diversion Goal

It is the goal of the DCCSWMP to divert forty percent of all litter into the municipal waste stream.

 

 

40.5        ALTERNATIVES

 

40.5.1     Enforce Litter Regulations

Both state and local regulations prohibit littering and have established enforcement sections. However, due to other more pressing or agency driven responsibilities, the enforcement of litter regulations take a low priority. Also, when a litter enforcement action is taken by an enforcement agency, the courts normally view it as a minor infraction and something that takes up already precious court time and resources. Under this alternative a solid waste enforcement/compliance position would be created within the Chelan-Douglas Health District (CDHD), with the sole responsibility of investigating public complaints and enforcing state and local solid waste violations. By establishing a single position, which is responsible for all state and local solid waste violations, the public, the participating jurisdictions and county departments would have a central contact point for complaints, consistency in interpretation, and uniform enforcement of the regulations. With the CDHD having intra-jurisdictional authority over all the participating jurisdictions and being responsible for enforcing state and local regulations pertaining to illegal dumping and the abatement of nuisances it will be necessary to fund this new solid waste enforcement compliance position.

 

40.5.2        Impose Uncovered Load Fees at Collection and Disposal Facilities

The participating jurisdictions should amend their existing Minimum Levels of Service (MLS) ordinances to require that all loads being disposed of at solid waste collection and disposal facilities must be covered to prevent any of the materials being transported from dropping, shifting, leaking or otherwise escaping. By amending their MLS ordinances, the participating jurisdictions would require that all solid waste collection and disposal facilities could then charge an uncovered load fee. The funds collected under this fee, would be required to be spent on litter control at the collection or disposal facility and at adjacent properties.

 

40.5.3        Develop a Countywide Uniform Litter Control Ordinance

Litter is not just a roadside problem. High activity areas in city and county parks, public access areas, and isolated or remote areas accumulated more litter per acre each year than roadways do. While vehicles are the primary mode of access to these areas, non-driving activities such as walking, boating, fishing, hunting and picnicking may generate the majority of litter at these sites. The composition of litter at some of these sites also suggests the possibility of illegal dumping. Therefore, with the assistance of the Douglas County Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) the DCSWPO should develop a `model' Countywide Uniform Litter Control Ordinance. Each participating jurisdiction could then adopt their own litter control ordinance, which would be model after the Countywide Uniform Litter Control Ordinance. This would ensure uniformity of litter control regulations and requirements countywide and make it more effective to enforce and to educate the public.

 

40.5.4        Develop a Countywide Public Complaint Tracking Program

Much of the roadside litter within the RPA appears to be accidental and associated with hauling uncovered loads. Off roadside litter within the RPA appears to be deliberate and is most likely a result of illegal dumping. Therefore, a countywide public complaint tracking program should be established which would document the number of public complaints, identify the type of complaints, plot the geographic location of the complaints and help determine littering "hot-zones" within the RPA. Once these zones were established, enforcement and education efforts could be concentrated within them to maximize the limited resources and staff available. In order to be effective the public has to have faith in the program and believe that their complaints will be followed up and taken seriously.

 

40.5.5        Improve Interagency Coordination and Cooperation

Under RCW 70.93.050; state patrol officers, wildlife agents, fire wardens, deputy fire wardens and forest rangers, sheriffs and marshals and their deputies, and police officers, and those employees of the DOE and the parks and recreation commission vested with police powers, all shall enforce the provisions of the Model Litter Control Act (MLCA). Under Douglas County Resolution C.E. 95-069B enforcement of the Uniform Litter Control Code may be by any law enforcement officer, fire department and building department personnel, jurisdictional health department personnel and those public agencies charged with the responsibility of operating and maintaining public places. As can be seen by this list a wide variety of agencies and authorities are responsible to enforcing littering within the RPA. In order for any littering enforcement program to be effective all the agencies and authorities involved, including the court system, must agree to support the effort and play a part. Under this alternative the CDHD would form a regional litter taskforce to develop a regional littering abatement program. Once the regional littering abatement program is developed an enforcement strategy should be implemented, with support from all the agencies and authorities.

 

40.5.6        Develop a Countywide Litter Control Program

A countywide litter control program should be established for the RPA. This program would be specific to just city and county roadways, right-of-ways, and property, this program would not apply to federal, state or private lands. Under this alternative, each participating jurisdiction would submit a list of projects to the DCSWPO annually. The DCSWPO in conjunction with the SWAC would review the submitted projects and prepare a project schedule and implementation budget. Selection of projects by SWAC would be primarily based upon project cost versus benefit of the project. Once approved, the DCSWPO would contract with the DCPO to oversee and implement the approved schedule, utilizing correctional crews.

 

40.5.7        Develop a Litter Control Education Program

The DCSWPO should develop a litter control education program. This program would specifically provide the public with information about how much littering is occurring within the RPA, uncovered loads, identification of "hot-zones" within the RPA and how much it is costing to pick-up and abate. The program could provide information on what is litter, what type of littering is occurring, where it is occurring and other similar information. The DCSWPO should develop brochures and information sheets to educate the public, retailers and regulatory authorities about litter and its abatement. The DCSWPO should purchase and make available to the participating jurisdictions litter control bags emphasizing the anti-litter message.

 

40.5.8        Monitor and Track Litter

The DCSWPO needs to monitor and track all littering to determine what is being littered, the volume of litter being picked up, where it is being disposed of, and what is it costing to pick-up and abate. Without knowing these basic facts, it is impossible to develop a litter abatement program or implement an enforcement strategy for the RPA. Therefore, the DCSWPO should establish a data tracking program that monitors and tracks all litter being disposed of within the RPA annually.

 

 

40.6        RECOMMENDATIONS

 

40.6.1     Enforce Litter Regulations

 

40.6.2     Implement Uncovered Load Fees at Collection and Disposal Facilities

 

40.6.3     Adopt a Countywide Uniform Litter Control Ordinance

 

40.6.4     Improve Interagency Coordination and Cooperation

 

40.6.5     Implement a Countywide Litter Control Program

 

40.6.6     Implement a Litter Control Education Program

 

40.6.7     Monitor and Track Litter