Litter

Litter

Litter Hotline

July 2011 UPDATE - Due to state budget cuts, we are now unable to accept reports on witnessed littering events. We hope that this service might be restored in the future, but for now it has been suspended. Thank you for doing your part to keep Washington clean. For more information, see Litter hotline suspended.

Citizens who witness littering acts can call the hotline and report basic information such as date, time, location, objects thrown, the license plate of the vehicle, and a description of the vehicle. Department of Ecology (Ecology) staff will cross-reference the reported license plate with the Department of Licensing to get the name and address of the vehicle's registered owner.

No one issues a ticket based on a citizen report, but the vehicle owner gets a letter describing litter laws and fines.

Frequently asked questions and answers about the litter hotline.


Report litter now

August 2013 UPDATE - 1-886-LITTER-1 and online litter reporting both continue to be suspended due to lack of funding.

866-LITTER-1 (866-548-8371)   |   E-mail   |   Online Form   |

Be sure to include the following information:

  • License plate number, state, and type (Disabled, University, etc.)
  • Vehicle description (make, model, type, color)
  • Who littered (driver, passenger, unsecured load, etc.)
  • Description of what was littered
  • Date and time of incident
  • Location (Hwy, Road, intersection)
  • Direction of travel
  • Nearest town

  Click here to report other types of environmental problems


Ecology does not use the number of calls to the litter hotline to measure the "success" or "failure" of the campaign. The primary purpose of the hotline is to send a message to litterers that other people care and may be watching. Secondly, the litter hotline gives concerned citizens a chance to report littering. Finally, letters in response to a hotline report provide a personal and powerful way to make sure litterers know the laws and fines associated with litter.

A general public survey (400 residents in King County, Washington) indicated that 85 percent of adults would be interested in using a toll-free number to report littering. Reporting was seen as a positive way citizens could "do something" about the litter problem. Several other states including Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina, Michigan, and Louisiana successfully operate similar hotlines.

New Cell Phone Law

Many people have heard that Washington has a new law that prohibits people from talking on cell phones while driving. The law, Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5037, passed in 2007 and took effect July 2008.

Many people have asked us, "How will this impact the litter hotline? Will people stop calling the hotline for fear of getting a ticket?" The quick answer is the law lets people use cell phones to report littering.

We don't have statistics on how many people call the litter hotline from cell phones versus home phones, but we encourage people to be safe.

Please don't let the new law deter you from reporting litterers, especially when you see unsecured loads. People who use cell phones to report illegal activities are exempt from the law. If you feel making the call while driving is unsafe, remember you can always call from home or submit a report on-line. Littering and driving with unsecured loads are illegal activities, so calls to the hotline are allowed. Click here for a copy of the cell phone law.

Litter Hotline Statistics

Calls to the litter hotline have steadily increased since its debut in April of 2002. The charts below show the number of calls the hotline has received since 2005.