Litter Publications

Washington State Litter Studies

RCW 70.93.200 directs the Department of Ecology (Ecology) to conduct research about litter. Litter studies were conducted by the State in 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, and 1990. In 1998, Ecology worked with Cascadia Consulting Group to develop a new methodology. The goal of these litter studies is to collect useable data on the amount (pounds) and the types (composition) of litter in Washington.

The 1999 Litter Study went a step further and included both focus groups and a telephone survey. Ecology used this additional information to investigate attitudes about litter, major contributors to the litter problem, and possible avenues for preventing litter. The information collected in the 1999 study provided baseline information that Ecology used to coordinate cleanup efforts and develop a prevention strategy.

Ecology decided to repeat the field research that measures the quantity and types of litter around state every five years. As part of the litter prevention campaign that began in 2002, attitudinal research has been conducted periodically. But focus groups and telephone surveys are not routinely part of the official "litter study."

The 2008-2009 Litter Study was cancelled due to budget cuts. It will continue when funding returns.

1999 Litter Study Reports

Washington State Litter Study Volume I - Final Report (June 2000)

Washington State Litter Study Volume II - Generation & Composition Report (June 2000)

Washington State Litter Study Volume III - Focus Group Report (May 2000)

Washington State Litter Study Volume IV - Telephone Survey Report (May 2000)

Frequently Asked Questions - Litter Survey and Sort (June 1999)

Litter in Washington (June 2000) - A two-page fact sheet with statistics from the 1999 litter study.

2004 Litter Study Report

To see if any progress had been made in reducing litterthere was less litter, Ecology contracted with Cascadia Consulting Group in 2004 to repeat the litter survey study. While the 1999 study provided a baseline, the 2004 study allowed The purpose of the study was to characterize Washington’s litter so Ecology could to evaluate littering trends, gauge the effectiveness of cleanup efforts and the marketing prevention campaign, and to adapt future efforts as needed. A detailed reporting of the 2004 results and a comparison to the 1999 study is available in one volume.

Washington State 2004 Litter Study - Litter Generation and Composition Report (March 2005)

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Litter Prevention

Litter Prevention Campaign

With the release of the litter study report in the summer of 2000, Ecology began work on developing a comprehensive litter prevention strategy to change the behavior of litterers. Work with a team of consultants began in January 2001, and in June, the campaign plan was completed. The plan contains several parts:
  • A situation analysis and background information.
  • Information on target audiences.
  • Campaign objectives.
  • An outline of strategies to use.
  • Several appendices that cover draft creative materials, focus group reports, correspondence from a state agency litter summit, and a contact list of potential sponsors.
Litter and It Will Hurt Campaign Plan (August 2001)

Other Litter Prevention Materials

Enduring Litter Poster (August 2000)
A poster that lists the decomposition times for items that are frequently found as litter.

A-Way With Waste (January 1997)
The A-Way with Waste activity guide introduces concepts on how waste handling affects land, air, and water. Environmental, economic, and political issues are addressed. The activities in the guide promote awareness, attitudes, and actions to solve waste problems at home, in school, and in the community. Litter activities can be found on pages 44-48 in the Solid Waste Management Section.

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Reports to the Legislature

The Litter Task Force was formed in July 1997. The Task Force examined the effectiveness of litter control in Washington as carried out in accordance with the Waste Reduction, Recycling, and Model Litter Control Act (Chapter 70.93 Revised Code of Washington). The assignment was to evaluate the system, and recommend changes that would significantly improve litter prevention and pickup into the future. This document has guided litter programs of Ecology since the recommendations were adopted by the Legislature in 1998.

Litter Task Force Report (December 1997)

The Legislature required Ecology to provide information summarizing litter activities. This information is included in the Waste 2 Resources Program's annual reports. Litter information is a separate chapter in each report.