Reforms to State Litter Laws Under Consideration

On Tuesday Jan. 30, Substitute House Bill 2207 was passed by the House Committee on Environment & Energy, 10-5, and this past Monday, Feb. 5, it passed the House Committee on Appropriations. Now it’s been referred to Rules 2 Review, where it will be further deliberated on and discussed.

Reusable grocery bag floats in Ferndale neighborhood pond. Photo by Josh Hernandez

Substitute House Bill 2207 aims to reform penalties for illegal dumping and make waste transfer stations more affordable. It was initially introduced in the Washington State House of Representatives by Rep. Bill Ramos (D-Issaquah) on Jan. 9. If passed, the bill would make illegal dumping a civil infraction, whereas now it is regarded as a criminal penalty.

Ramos said, “It’s expensive to dump things at the dump nowadays, and rightly so, because it’s hard to get rid of things. Let’s help folks do the right thing, as well.”

Nearly 38 million pounds of material waste are estimated to litter Washington State’s public areas and roadways annually, according to last year’s reports from Washington’s Department of Ecology. Cigarette butts, plastics, food wrappers, vehicle and tire debris, and even toxic waste have been found along highway interchanges and roadways and in state parks.

Gov. Jay Inslee said, “It’s heartbreaking to see the most beautiful state in the country marred by litter.”

Litter cleanup efforts are ongoing as both state lawmakers and the Washington State Department of Ecology conduct more studies on littered waste and the possible environmental impacts of it. Substitute House Bill 2207 may be just one of many steps to be made this year in the state legislature for the prevention of littering.

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