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Litter Prevention


Litter Prevention

Litter is ugly and it can harm people and wildlife. Picking up litter can be costly for cities and highway departments. But the good news is, litter is preventable! Roanoke is located in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Why not help keep it that way?

Ways You Can Help:
  • Always bag trash securely before placing it in your “Big Blue” trash container, and keep the lid closed, so the trash can't blow away during trash collection and become litter.
  • Ensure that recyclables can't blow out of recycling bins.
  • Keep construction sites and loading docks clear of loose trash and debris that can be blown or washed away.
  • Keep a litter bag in your vehicle to prevent loose trash from blowing out of windows and doors.
  • Extinguish cigarette butts in ashcans and ashtrays. When thrown on the ground or out the window, most wash into our waterways, polluting streams and harming stream life. Also, be aware that a cigarette butt can take up to 20 years to decompose.
  • Adopt a city park, greenway, or street to help keep public property free of litter. To become a volunteer in any of these programs, call 853-1801 or send an email to
  • The Sheriff's Office inmate work crew program provides litter clean-up services. Anyone in the city can request inmate work crew help with litter clean-up on public property or the public right of way. Citizens may call 853-2941, or e-mail the Sheriff's Office at with the location.

Research has shown that people tend to litter more in areas where litter has already accumulated; therefore, each citizen who does not litter makes a larger impact than just their own action.

Where does litter come from?
Litter is generated from many sources, including:
  • Loose trash in “Big Blues” or dumpsters can blow out and become litter during the trash collection process. Always secure all trash in bags, and keeping the lid closed, prevents this from happening.
  • Trash and debris at construction areas and loading docks that is not secured can blow or wash away.
  • Litter (and hazardous objects) can fall out of uncovered truck beds.
  • Motorists who throw trash or cigarette butts out of windows.
  • Pedestrians and picnickers who throw or leave trash on street, sidewalks, or in parks.
Littering is a crime in the city of Roanoke
Littering is a violation of Sec. 14.1-3 of Roanoke City Code. It is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can carry a fine of up to $2500 per violation per day and confinement in jail for up to 12 months. These consequences are in addition to being billed for the cost of clean-up plus a $100 service charge.

In addition, property owners are responsible for keeping their properties and the public right-of-way between their parcel and the curb or centerline of any street or alley, litter-free. Failing to do so is in violation of Roanoke City Code Sec. 33-18, and is punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $250 in addition to being billed for the cost of clean-up plus a $100 service charge.

Further Resources on Litter
Visit Keep America Beautiful's litter prevention website for more news and information about litter, as well as tips on what you can do to prevent littering in your area.