Litter Enforcement

We work to raise awareness of the legal consequences of littering, illegal dumping, and related crimes, and their social and environmental effects on our communities, our economy, and the Potomac. These efforts include increasing enforcement efforts through Litter Enforcement Month and training law enforcement officers about the importance of enforcing litter and litter-related laws. It is our hope that by increasing enforcement efforts we can educate the public and provide incentive for behavior change.

Why focus on Litter Enforcement?

  • Littering and illegal dumping are related crimes which affect our neighborhoods and the Potomac River.
  • Studies show that there is a strong correlation between high volumes of litter and increased crime.
  • Street litter becomes marine debris quickly. Storm drains in the region usually leads directly to tributaries of the Potomac River- the source of up to 80% of area residents’ drinking water.
  • People admitted that enforcement would deter them from littering in our 2008 public opinion study, however, very few people think there is a chance of getting caught.

 

History of Litter Enforcement

In 2008, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) celebrated the first Litter Enforcement Week. In 2010, the 3rd Annual Litter Enforcement week occurred between April 4th and 10th. Per suggestion of the Enforcement Roundtable at the 5th Annual Trash Summit in Sept 2010, the week-long event was extended to a month in order to allow for better education of the public and officers alike.