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Litter on State Highways

The problem with litter

During a two-year period, WSDOT disposed of 6,075 tons of litter and debris that was removed from its roadsides. The Department of Ecology estimates another 4,400 tons were collected on state and county roads during this time.

Cost of litter control for state highways

WSDOT spends more than $3 million annually to pick up and dispose of litter statewide. This includes:

  • Pick up and disposal of litter bags
  • Pick up and disposal of large debris, such as furniture, tires and dead animals
  • Payments to the Department of Corrections crews for litter pick up
  • Administration of the Adopt-A-Highway program

Partners in litter control

Litter control on state highways is a shared responsibility: 

  • The Adopt-A-Highway program is an anti-litter and highway enhancement campaign intended to promote pride and ownership in keeping our state beautiful.
  • It allows individuals and groups to "adopt" a section of state highway by agreeing to take care of it for a two-year period. Volunteer groups may be clubs, employees of a business, or concerned citizens. All participants must be at least 15 years of age and in good health.
  • Typically, an assigned section includes between two and four miles of roadside.
  • WSDOT installs signs, giving recognition to the individual or group that has adopted the highway.
  • WSDOT also provides traffic control equipment, safety equipment, safety training, litterbags and disposal of filled bags for the volunteers.
  • In the expanded Adopt-A-Highway program, a private sponsor may hire a professional contractor to clean or enhance a section of highway in return for a sign with the business name and/or logo.

WSP issues fines, to people who litter.

Washington State Patrol is responsible for enforcement of litter-control laws on state highways.

RCWs for litter issues

  • RCW 70.93 Waste Reduction, recycling, and model litter control act
  • RCW 47.40.100 State Adopt-A-Highway program