DC Woman fined for not recycling cat litter

Kitty litter much easier to recycle than politicians though...

DC Resident Fined Thousands For Not Recycling Cat Litter

Fox DC: It’s the law in D.C. – recycle or face a fine from the Department of Public Works. But is enforcement of the law going too far?

Dupont Circle resident Patricia White says she has been fined eight times for throwing homemade cat litter in her trash. The fines total $2,000. White says she shreds old newspaper and junk mail to use as cat litter. She believes she is helping the environment by reusing the paper and avoiding cat litter you will find in stores.
After being fined several times, White says she called the Department of Public Works (DPW) inspector who issued the tickets. According to White, the inspector admitted to digging through trash looking for violations. White even appealed the violations in D.C. court. Judge Audrey Jenkins agreed with the inspector after White explained the situation. FOX 5 tried to reach Judge Jenkins, but her office has declined to comment.
D.C. Council Member Jack Evans says DPW is going too far with its recycling enforcement. He demanded a meeting with DPW Director Bill Howland to discuss White’s case.  White says she will continue to fight the citations and continue to dispose of her cat’s litter in the trash and not in the recycling bin.
The DC Department of Public Works made the following statement to clarify the purpose of its commercial recycling enforcement procedures:
“The overall goal of recycling is to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills; therefore, DPW’s commercial recycling education and enforcement work is citywide. We do not enforce residential recycling, which is collected from single family homes and apartment buildings with no more than three living units.
“DPW recycling investigators are looking for evidence of co-mingling of trash with recyclables. We are finding contamination of the recyclables that is clearly coming from someone who lives or works in the building or in the trained perspective of our investigators, the problem is ‘systemic’ where poor receptacle placement, labeling and/or education have contributed to obvious contamination.
“We emphasize education and when that does not work, as shown by follow-up inspections, we will enforce the regulations.  “An appeal process is available to property owners who believe a ticket has been issued unfairly.”
In an e-mail to FOX 5 regarding White’s situation, a spokesperson for the DC Department of Public Works said, “The ticket Ms. White is questioning was upheld November 21, 2011 by an Administrative Law Judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings, based on evidence of items other than the shredded newspaper that showed comingled trash and recyclables.”
This is a priority in DC? According to Uniform Crime Report statistics compiled by the FBI, there were 1,437.7 violent crimes per 100,000 people reported in the District of Columbia in 2008. There were also 5,104.6 property crimes per 100,000 reported during the same period. Violent crime is still more than three times the national average of 454.5 reported offenses per 100,000 people in 2008.
DPW digging through trash?  Wonder how much that position pays? 
I know DPW is not responsible for dealing with crimes yet apparently not recycling cat litter is an offense worth monitoring.  
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6 Comment authors
BreLindaDr. EowynTee LeeAnonymous Recent comment authors
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I guess DPW is not bound by the 4th Ammendment protecting from unreasonable Search and Seizure of private property. Im guessing they did not obtain a warrant to search her trash. This of course is in addition to the issue of it incredible waste of money having a government employee search through peoples trash!

Dr. Eowyn

It’s not private property when it’s dumped in your trash can. Law enforcement doesn’t need a search warrant, and anyone can snoop through your garbage.
But to have govt employees spend their time rifling through our garbage is not just a stupid waste of personnel, I’m also reminded that serial killer Dennis “BTK” Rader was a dog-catcher and “compliance” supervisor for the city government of Park City, Kansas. There were citizen complaints he was “over zealous” and “extremely strict.”
Makes me wonder about the DC Public Works inspector in this case!


How the heck are you supposed to recycle cat litter? Oh, wait, Demo-rats give out free mailers for contributions… 🙂

Tee Lee

If they’re that desperate, let ’em dig through the trash! If she’s using the paper that should be recycled though, and the judge is going to be such a b*tch about it, I say go ahead and dump the litter when she’s done with it into the recycle bin, and let the recycling company complain about it for awhile!!! Problem solved! LOL! I bet some nosey neighbor called them and said, “Hey, you gotta come look at her trash – she’s not recycling!” LOL! Morons.

Tee Lee

Now that I’ve had my laugh, I’m mad. There are SOOOOO many other things they could be doing other than wasting their time and trying to drudge up money for the government coffers. You know what they could be doing to put money into the system? Fire these idiots and put the money back into the works. Dumb. Just plain dumb. Waste of time, waste of taxpayer dollars, waste of manpower.


Seems to me we should shred and recycle officials like this bonehead. What does he want her to do, put sh”” covered paper int he recycle bin? How stupid.

Dr. Eowyn

You are very bad, Terry. No soup for you! LOL 😀


Great information about recycling, that is a crazy story.
A fun recycling graphic just came through my twitter feed that I thought you might like.
Bre Matthews
4th Grade Teacher