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Taking Care of the Environment Makes Good Business Sense


Congratulations on becoming a licensed business in the District of Columbia.  The District Department of the Environment (DDOE) and the Department of Public Works (DPW) want to share a few simple ways for you to reduce pollution while saving money.

DDOE programs are designed to facilitate cleaner air and water, green our neighborhoods and building space, and assist with the management of hazardous and toxic waste disposal.  DPW operates the residential recycling program and enforces commercial recycling laws.

A Small Spill is a Big Deal

It is a violation of the District of Columbia Water Pollution Control Act to discharge oil, used motor oil, gasoline, antifreeze, acid, as well as corrosive, flammable, or explosive material into a sewer or in public space.  Practice the following pollution prevention tips:

  • Dispose of or store all chemicals including paint, oils, lubricants, cleaners, solvents, corrosive substances according to the product label.
  • Do not pour unwanted chemicals on public space, down any drain, and never into the storm sewer or catch basin.  Use dry-cleanup practices.
  • Sidewalks should be swept clean regularly.
  • If a large spill occurs and reaches or enters the storm drain, call the District Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency at (202) 727-6161.

For more information, please contact the Water Quality Division at (202) 535-2600.


Small businesses can reduce both their operating costs and overall energy usage by making simple and inexpensive energy improvements in their facilities.  Lighting retrofits are typically the easiest way to reduce energy consumption.  We can help you save energy and money on heating and cooling as well.

For more information, please contact the DDOE Energy Office at (202) 673-6700 or visit Energy in the District.

Toxic Substances

If you are generating, accumulating or shipping any hazardous waste, you must register as a generator with DDOE and obtain an EPA ID number.  Hazardous wastes may include materials such as paints, solvents, fluorescent light bulbs, and motor oil.

If you need more detailed information about your business, please see Toxic Substances.

For more information, please call (202) 535-2290.

Rat Control

  • Rats need food, water, and shelter to survive and raise their young.  Let’s work together to eliminate food sources for rodents.
  • Check trash containers to ensure the tops and bottoms are secure and free from holes.
  • Trash is to be removed frequently enough so that the containers do not overflow.
  • Store cooking grease in proper containers with tightly fitting lids.  Make sure the containers are clean and free from grease from the outside.
  • Seal all holes in exterior walls, floors, and foundations.  Seal basement windows with wire mesh.
  • Eliminate all clutter outside the building.
  • If using an exterminator, check to make sure the company is licensed in the District.

Call 311 to report multiple rodents in public space.

Watershed Protection

Small businesses can do their part to help prevent stormwater pollution to our rivers and streams by ensuring that outside stockpiles are covered, spills are properly contained and cleaned up, and grounds are trash-free and landscaped to prevent erosion and polluted runoff from leaving the property.

If you obtain a DCRA Building Permit, be sure to follow all stormwater management and erosion and sediment control regulations.  Stop by the DDOE desk at the DCRA One-Stop Permit Center or visit the DDOE website at ddoe.dc.gov for suggestions to help protect local water quality.

For more information, please call (202) 535-2240.


Recycling is required in all commercial establishments (office buildings, hospitals, schools and universities, churches, non-profits, museums, cooperatives, condominiums, bars and restaurants, and apartment buildings with more than three units).  Failure to submit an official Recycling Plan, and implement a recycling program, can result in fines.  DPW is responsible for commercial recycling education and enforcement.

Business owners and building managers can visit the DPW website or call the Recycling Hotline at (202) 645-8245 to obtain further information about filing a Recycling Plan or identifying authorized recycling haulers.

Air Quality

If your business operates any equipment that emits dust or odors to the outdoors, burns fossil fuel, or uses solvents, you may need an air quality construction permit and an operating permit.  You would need to apply for the permits before installing or operating the equipment.  Application forms are available at ddoe.dc.gov.

If you need help determining whether you need a permit, call DDOE’s Air Quality Division at (202) 535-2250.  If you have a small business and need help understanding air pollution permitting requirements and other air pollution control regulations, call DDOE’s Small Business Assistance Program at (202) 535-2997.

Regulatory Compliance

Whether you are a business owner, manager, or employee, you need to understand and comply with the District’s environmental regulations and evaluate the environmental impact of your operations, products, and services.  The staff of the District Department of the Environment is available to answer questions, provide assistance, and help you improve your environmental performance.

Failure to follow environmental laws and regulations can pollute the environment and negatively impact public health, safety, and welfare.  DDOE and DPW take seriously the responsibility to enforce environmental and waste management laws and regulations.  Compliance is strongly encouraged as environmental violations may lead to criminal penalties, including imprisonment, civil fines and penalties of up to $25,000 per day per violation.

Thank you for doing your part to protect the environment!

For additional information, call the Mayor’s Citywide Call Center at 311.

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