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Refuse Collection


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Refuse Collection

The “Big Blue”, a 96 gallon container, is used for the 1-Arm Bandit Program. This size is larger than three 30 gallon containers most people are accustomed to.

Automated refuse collection is the use of mechanical equipment to reduce or eliminate the need for city employees to lift and empty refuse containers. Fully automated refuse trucks use mechanical arms to lift special containers off the street, empty them into the trucks, and return them to their original positions. Semi-automated refuse trucks, used in some alleys, require city employees to roll the containers onto mechanical lifters to empty them into the backs of the trucks.


General Refuse Collection takes place once each week for each city resident and some small businesses. Customers must put out trash for collection in blue automated refuse containers no earlier than 7 p.m. on the day before collection and no later than 7 a.m. on the day of collection. Containers must be removed by 7 a.m. on the day following collection and placed behind the principle building line.

Curbside Service:
    Place your “Big Blue” refuse container, your recycling container and your bulk & brush out to the curb. Do not place the bulk in the street, just close to the curb and away from any vehicles, mailboxes, poles, trees, or low-lying utility lines.
Alley Service:
    If you participate in alley collection, place your “Big Blue” container and recycling containers in the alley, while still setting your bulk & brush to the street curb. Do not place the bulk in the street, just close to the curb and away from any vehicles, mailboxes, poles, trees, or low-lying utility lines.
Q. Do I take my Big Blue Container to the Curb or to the Alley?
A. To the curb. The only exceptions are in areas where front lawns are too steep, where streets are too congested, or where access to the home is in the rear. NOTE: These homes will now place their recyclables in the alleys along with their “Big Blue” container.

Q. How do I know if I’m an exception to the curb rule?
A. Check to see if your alley, street, or block is listed by calling the Citizen Service Center at 853-2000, Option 1.

Q. What if I am physically challenged and unable to get my container to the curb or alley?
A. Ask for assistance. Assistance to the physically challenged (door-side service) is available to anyone who needs it, as verified by your physician. To request help, call the Citizen Service Center at 853-2000 or use the online service request form.

Central Business District (Downtown) Refuse Collection: All businesses and residents in the CBD CORE, from Williamson Rd to Jefferson St, from the Norfolk Southern tracks to Church Ave, use the centrally located sealed trash compactor on Kirk Ave behind Mill Mountain Coffee and Tea. You can dump big blue cans, and also drop off bottles, cans and plastics and paper recycling there 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
As conveniently located sealed compactors replace curbside collection, the approved set out times below will continue to decrease. Zones two and three compactors are scheduled for Spring 2015 completion.



Between 6:00pm and 7:00pm

Between 5:00pm and 6:00pm

All collections west of 2nd St SW take place on Thursday and big blue cans and recycling bins need to placed at the curb by 7:00am that morning.

Remember that all city issued containers must be removed off of the street by 8:00 a.m. of the following day.

The recycling of clean cardboard. paper, bottles and cans is encouraged. Additional automated containers or recycling containers that are to be used exclusively for recycling are provided at no charge. All cardboard for recycling collection can either be laid flat and tied or nested together. Bottles and cans can be placed in clear plastic bags.

If the business is a restaurant, office, or financial institution in the CBD area a monthly charge of $120 will be issued. All other businesses will be charged $70 monthly. Recycling will be collected from all businesses on a nightly basis at no charge. All trash will be collected on Thursday evenings at no charge.
    Each resident's refuse, recycling, and bulk and brush collection takes place on the same day of the week. Using I-581/US 220 and the main railway tracks to divide the city into quadrants, collection for Northwest will take place on Monday, Northeast on Tuesday, Southeast on Wednesday, and Southwest on Thursday. Please note that these quadrants do not necessarily match the quadrants used for postal addresses. Use the map below to determine the correct day for pickup.

    The following information answers questions about residential automated refuse collection:

    What are the advantages of automated refuse collection?
    • Because city employees no longer must lift refuse containers, back injuries are virtually eliminated. Fully automated refuse trucks require only one driver/operator, instead of a driver and two sanitation workers. The other two workers can be used for other vital solid waste programs.
    • An integral part of the automated refuse collection system is all trash must be placed in specially-designed containers. Because each container is the same type and color neighborhoods look significantly better on collection day.
    • The big blue containers are actually easier to use than many smaller containers. They will not easily tip over, will not blow away, do not have separate lids to get lost, have big wheels for easy rolling and hold the weekly trash of an average family of six, provided this family recycles.
    • The advantage to the larger size is the ability to still service the citizen on a weekly basis without having overflow of containers.
    What do I need to know to use automated refuse collection?
    • The most important thing to remember about automated refuse collection is all of your trash, other than recycling and/or bulk or brush, must be placed inside the big blue container to be collected. Any trash outside of the container cannot be loaded by the automated truck, and the driver/operator will not get out to pick up bags or piles of debris placed next to the container. You'll be surprised how much the big blue containers can hold. All items in the Big Blue containers need to be in a sealed bag. If you have large items not appropriate for the container (such as appliances, piles of branches, etc.), please refer to Bulk and Brush Collection.
    • The container must be placed within five feet of the street for the truck to reach it. To provide enough clearance for the mechanical arm, make sure each container is at least five feet away from parked vehicles, mailboxes, telephone poles, fire hydrants, overhead obstructions, bulk or brush piles, and recycling containers. If the driver/operator cannot safely reach your container, your trash will not be collected.
    • Make sure your container is out for collection not earlier than 7 p.m. on the day before collection and not later than 7 a.m. on the day of collection. Remove the container as soon as possible after collection, but not later than 7 a.m. on the day following collection. Containers must be stored behind the principle building line.
    • Each city resident is provided one container free of charge. If you need additional containers, you can purchase them from the city for $63 each plus tax. The free container is the property of the city and is registered to your address. Do not take this container with you if you move. Any additional containers you purchase are your property.
    • The city will not collect automobile parts, dead animals, grease from non-residential establishments, manure, topsoil, earth, stone, rock, brick, concrete, asphalt, heavy metal, sheet rock, plate or large broken glass, poisons, caustics, acids, trees, stumps, explosives or other dangerous materials, or rubbish from construction, remodeling, razing and repair operations on houses, commercial buildings and other structures. Do not put any such material out for collection by the city. Trees, shrubbery or brush cut by contractors for a fee may not be put out for collection by the city; it is the responsibility of landscapers to remove this material.
    Who picked out the big blue containers?
      A committee of citizens, representing all four quadrants of the city, considered several characteristics in choosing the type, style and color of the container:
    • Capacity- The committee found an average family of six would need a 95-gallon container for a week's worth of trash. This container holds more than three times the trash of a normal residential container.
    • Convenience- A square-style container was chosen because it fits better in the corners of garages, carports and other storage areas. That's important for street collection because the container must be moved behind the front building line when not set out for collection. Even though the container seems tall, its height makes it easier to move. Even if it's full, it will go just about anywhere when you lean it back. The big wheels were chosen because they make the container roll easily and provide stability to prevent tipping.
    • Appearance- The committee chose navy blue because it looks good! Each container has the city logo for easy identification. Just think how neat your street or alley will be on collection day when everyone uses the same containers and there is no blowing trash, bags, boxes, or cans without lids!
      Residents and businesses in the city of Roanoke, and generate 700 tons of waste every day. These valley localities have created the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority and joined forces with Norfolk Southern in an innovative public-private partnership to take out the trash.

      Each locality collects its own trash, using its own equipment. After collection, refuse trucks deliver the trash to the Resource Authority's Tinker Creek Transfer Station at 1020 Hollins Road in the city of Roanoke, near the intersection of Orange Avenue and Hollins Road. At the Transfer Station, waste is loaded into specially-designed rail cars and covered with watertight lock-down lids. Each rail car holds 65 tons of waste, making them among the largest on the railroad. At the end of the day, all waste collected and loaded into the rail cars is transported 33 miles by Norfolk Southern's Waste Line Express to the landfill.

      Upon arriving at the landfill, the rail cars are uncoupled and positioned for unloading the following day. The train makes a daily trip to Smith Gap with the loaded cars from the Transfer Station and returns the same day with empty rail cars from the previous day's load.

      At the Smith Gap Station, the rail cars are unloaded using a rail car dumper to rotate the car upside down. The unloading operation takes place inside the tipper building, where the waste is loaded into haul trucks for burial in a 1,200 acre, environmentally protected landfill disposal area meeting all state and federal regulations.

      This regional public-private parternship is the first project in the United States using rail as the sole transportation link between a solid waste transfer station and a landfill, and was one of the three projects for which the city of Roanoke received the All-America City Award in 1996.